The operations of the DA-funded Camarines Norte Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (CN APTC) has been turned over to the Labo Progressive Multipurpose Cooperative (LPMPC) effective August 1, 2020.The Department of Agriculture regional office in Bicol has funded the establishment of the said P 34.85 M AgriPinoy Trading Center at the Sitio Mat-I, barangay Sto. Domingo in Vinzons Camarines Norte in 2013. It is equipped with warehouses, loading stations and cold-storage facilities. The Provincial Government (PG) of Camarines Norte (CN) infused the working capital funds and manpower in their operation of the APTC starting July 1, 2014. The total expenses incurred by the PG from 2014-2020 is P24.3M.

The recent turnover of APTC management was under the Memorandum of Agreement between the PG of Camarines Norte and the DA RFO 5 dated 2013 wherein the PG CN will run the trading operation for five (5) years and shall turn it over to a qualified coop afterwards. The Memorandum of Agreement effecting the turnover of the trading center operations was signed by Governor Edgardo A. Tallado; Fe V. De Mesa, chairperson of the LPMPC; DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla; Cam. Norte Provincial Agriculturist Engr. Almirante A. Abad; Mario M. Espeso, General Manager of LPMPC; and Efren S. Mago, PAFC Cam. Norte Chairperson on June 29, 2020.

In his letter to Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Camarines Norte Governor Edgardo A. Tallado thanked Sec. Dar and the Department of Agriculture RFO 5 for the full support and assistance to farmers and traders.

The LPMPC was chosen to take over the operations of the trading center as it garnered the highest point on the different criteria set-up by CDA, DA RFO 5 and CN-OPAG among the eight (8) nominees vying to operate the CN-APTC. The LPMPC which is based in Malasugui, in the town of Labo has 7,000 members and has been operating in the whole Camarines Norte for over 30 years. More than 70% of LPMPC members are composed of famers and fisherfolks. It has more than P 100 million assets. The LPMPC is a longtime partner of LGUs and different government agencies like DA, DTI, DOST and DSWD in implementing different developmental projects that provide livelihood opportunities and employment to many small farmers and fisherfolks.

The PG Cam. Norte also turned over to the LPMPC P2.5 M working capital which was generated from trading fees and initial capital used by the interim management for the past five years operation. The provincial government through Governor Edgar A. Tallado also donated 1 unit motorcycle, 1 sidecar, two units reefer van, 1 unit CCTV, 3 units desktop computer sets, 1 unit computer printer, 2 split type air conditioning unit, 3 pieces office table, 1 steel cabinet, 3 units weighing scale, 2 units water dispenser, 1 unit generator set, 35 mono block chairs and 1 sala set, 1 unit sorting table, 69 pcs crates, 4 pcs platform trolley, and 2 pcs industrial trolley to the LPMPC.

Throughout its six-year operation, the CN-APTC has made available adequate supplies of basic agricultural products produced by local farmers and items not produced in Camarines Norte which are being imported by the APTC from other provinces and regions, and reduced the marketing intermediaries such as agents and middlemen along the value chain, so that farmers could enjoy the right price for their produce.

In a report submitted by the PG Cam. Norte to the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD), the trading center has received a total of 2,857.673 metric tons agricultural commodities delivered by the farmers from July 2014 to December 2019. It has also traded a total of 3,072.718 metric tons of agri commodities. It has purchased a total of P46,447,881.87 worth of agricultural commodities from over 700 farmers and over 800 bulk buyers during the six years of operations of the CN-APTC. The CN-APTC also generated a total sales of P 47,579,716.81 from July 2014 to December 2019, and earned a total income of P454,355.32 from trading fees.The peak of operation was in 2015 and 2016 when the trading center procured a total of P11.2M and P10.3M agri produce respectively. On these years also, the APTC has sold P10.6M and P10.7M worth of agri commodities respectively.

Engr. Almirante Abad, Provincial Agriculturist of Cam. Norte said that they have initiated various programs for the farmers of the province to encourage them to bring their produce to the APTC such as conduct of trainings on vegetable and crops production, organization of individual farmers into groups, provision of seeds, fertilizers and farm equipment, extending loan assistance and other technical assistance.

As incentive to farmers, the top grossers of the year or the three farmers who have highest earnings from delivery of agri products to the APTC were given cash prizes, appliances and token annually by PG Cam. Norte. In 2015, the top grosser farmer was Agnes Elimos of Talisay who earned a total of P243,404.50. In 2016, Alicia Jimenez of Vinzons won the top spot with her P363,765.50 earnings. In 2017, the top grosser was Angelo Liwag, who got P317,760.50 earnings. In 2018, Edgar Pada of Talisay won as top grosser with his P336,992.75 income. In 2019, the farmer top grosser was Sigfredo Magana, Jr. of Talisay earning P524,522.20.To further promote the APTC, the PG Cam. Norte allocated P2,635,000.00 capital loan for its contract growing scheme with 15 farmers associations namely: Strawberry Farm Association; Issachar Vegetable Growers Association; Guinacutan, Labo Vegetable Growers Association; Baklad Rice and Vegetable Growers Association; San Antonio Developers Association; Dagotdotan Farmers and Vegetable Growers Association; Singi Vegetable Growers Association; Asosasyon ng Nagkakaisang Magtatanim; Manlucugan Farmers Association; Aguit-it Farmers Association; Farmers Association of Bgy. Del Carmen’ Mabilo Farmers Farmers’ Association; Matango Farmers Association; Talisay Vegetable Growers Association; and Labnig Farmers Association.

Maria Christina Campita, former APTC Coordinator said that the Camarines Norte Lowland Rainfed Research Station (CNLRRS) facilitated the expansion of vegetable plantation in over 50 hectares area funded under the DA 5 High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) in partnership with the PG of Cam Norte. The CNLRRS also maintained a 1.5 hectare production area at the back of the APTC for two years.Adelina A. Losa, Chief of the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) who facilitated the establishment of the trading center said that the APTC is a first in the Bicol region and DA plans to put up this kind of trading center in Camarines Sur this year. (Lovella P. Guarin – DA RAFIS 5/ source: PLGU Cam. Norte reports submitted to AMAD; OPAG Cam. Norte)