LUCENA CITY, QUEZON – To celebrate the gains in Farm and Fisheries Clustering and Consolidation (F2C2), the Department of Agriculture (DA) staged the 2022 F2C2 Program Island-wide Cluster Summit for Luzon B on June 20-24, 2022 at a hotel here.

Three regions participated in the summit, namely: CALABARZON, MIMAROPA and Bicol. The Bicol Region delegation headed by Dr. Mary Grace Rodriguez, Chief of Field Operations Division was composed of 35 participants consisting of farmers/clusters, representatives from ATI, PhilRice, LGUs, SUCs and DA RFO 5 staff.

Focused on the theme “F2C2: A Strategy for Sustained Rural Development,” the 3-day summit was spearheaded by the DA RFO IV-A and Agriculture Training Institute (ATI) CALABARZON.

Agriculture Secretary William T. Dar addressed the participants thru a video message. “Ang pakay nitong F2C2 is to develop bayanihan agri-clusters. Itong mga clustered farmers ay may institusyon na susuporta dun sa mga miyembro at sila na po itong mga asosyon o mga kooperatiba ang magiging sandalan ng mga miyembro, hindi na individually yung mga miyembro ay pupunta at maghahanap ng merkado ng mga iba’t ibang produkto, bagkus, itong mga kooperatiba o mga asosasyon na yan ang maghahanap ng merkado at they can leverage because of the economies of scale. Say for rice – 100 hectares, almost a hundred farmers ay mayroon na talagang kakayanan na makipagnegosyo dahil there’s a group supporting each other and they can continue to capacitate their members.” he shared.

Also present during the occasion were F2C2 Program Director Shandy M. Hubilla; Engr. Arnel V. De Mesa, Assistant Secretary for Operations & Regional Executive Director of DA RFO IV-A; Engr. Elmer T. Ferry, RTD for Operations of DA RFO IV-B; Engr. Abelardo R. Bragas, OIC RTD for Operations of DA RFO IV-A; Dr. Rolando V. Maningas, ATI CALABARZON OIC Center Director; and Nemielynn P. Pangilinan, OIC Chief of PAD, ATI Central Office.

Five active clusters in F2C2 in Bicol displayed their products during the 3-day exhibit, namely: The Labo Progressive Multi-Purpose Cooperative (LPMPC), Camote Creations Farmers and Entrepreneurs Producers Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Albay Pili and Cacao Industry Association, Inc. (APCIA), and Philippine Pili Industry League, Inc. through the Avicrafts and styles, and J Emmanuel Pastries.

The participating clusters garnered a total sales of P125,115.00 during the exhibit.

Norilyn L. Llagas, operation manager of Kamote Creations delightfully shared, “andami ko pong experience dito sa F2C2 island-wide summit. Dito ko po naranasan maging sobrang saya sa sales namin na umabot nga ng P35,000. Ang highest sale ko po ay nasa P11,000 sa isang araw lang yan. Kaya, sobrang nagpapasalamat po ako sa DA RFO 5 at sa PRDP dahil dito ko lang po na-experience yung pinakamataas na sales ng aming kooperatiba. Na-reach po siguro namin itong sales na ito dahil everyday, pinag-aagawan po ang aming mga produkto kase sa pancit kamote palang po, first time pa lang daw nilang makita yun sa kamote. Nabuo po yun dahil sa mga farmers namin na nagtatanim at tinutulungan namin sila doon dahil minsan po naghaharvest sila ng kamote pero wala pong bumibili sa kanila doon kaya kami na lang po ang kumukuha sa kanila. Yung mga kamote po nila ginagawa na po namin na mga cookies, cake sticks, pancit, muffin, chiffon cake, at ang best seller po namin ay ang polvoron.”

Llagas is among the members of the Kamote Creations Farmers and Entrepreneurs Multi-Purpose Cooperative located in Daraga, Albay with 146 members and 76 members of these are being sweet potato farmers.

Among the resource speakers during the plenary sessions were Bicolano entrepreneurs including Cristina L. Torreda, 2021 National Outstanding Rural Woman and owner of Cristina’s Strawberry Farm in Catanduanes. She discussed the Role of Women in Agriculture; and Rey Ulysses Diamaano, Branch Manager of Labo Progressive Multipurpose Cooperative shared their best practices/ success stories in clustering and consolidation.

Other than the plenary sessions and booth exhibits, the participants visited the pilot clusters in CALABARZON. (L. Guarin & ME. Bongalos)