CABID-AN, Sorsogon City—The rains in Sorsogon City didn’t dampen the excitement and eagerness of the more than 70 members of Casiguran Pineapple Growers Association, Inc. (CPGAI) in receiving the Php1.5-worth of hauling truck which they considered a “blessing” from the Department of Agriculture-Bicol.

Ung ulan at holy water ni Msgr. Francisco P. Monje ay simbolo na tayo ay nabiyayaan ngayong araw na ito,” Regional Dairy Production and Technology Center (RDPTC) Superintendent Dolores E. Ricafranca said during the Blessing and Formal Turn-Over of the Hauling Truck to the CPGAI on February 13, 2019 at the Pineapple Processing Facility (PPF) here.

CPGAI President Francisco A. De Castro and secretary Jason Balbedina narrated how their organization started in 2015. They received more than 35,000 Hawaiian Pineapple Variety planting materials from the DA-Bicol in same year. However, during harvest, there was an oversupply which led to a drop in price.

Kami-kami mismo ay nakikipagkumpetensya sa kapwa naming miyembro dahil sa hindi namin pinag-aralan ang marketing,” shared Balbedina.

De Castro also narrated their first marketing transaction with LCC and Ayala Malls in Legazpi City— “Sa sobrang excitement, yung mga members ay nagcommit ng ganito karaming pinya, only that during the agreed delivery of the produce to the mall, kulang yung mga kinomit ng mga members namin. Luging lugi kami sa transportation cost.

However, the direction of their association changed when it was formally registered with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as CPGA in August 2017. They started their market networking since then.

In 2018, they were registered as an Incorporate (CPGAI) in their registration at the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).

On that same year, the DA-Bicol through the High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) turned over to their association the Pineapple Processing Facility worth Php3M pesos which include a storage facility, a dehydrator, a vacuum sealer, decorticating machine, and a shredder.

“Blessings were really pouring in just like the rain because now, after five months, we have this hauling truck which will ease the hauling and transport of our produce,” de Castro said.

HVCDP Regional Coordinator and Field Operations Division OIC-Chief Dr. Marygrace DP Rodriguez disclosed that aside from the truck and the facilities, “next year, magdadagdag pa kami ng mga additional equipment worth Php1.5M pesos.”

She challenged the members that these interventions should create substantial and sustainable impact in their lives by being united, cooperative and be committed to the agreement between the government and their association.

Congresswoman Evelina G. Escudero compared the uses of the whole pineapple plant to the interventions given to the association—“Lahat ng parte ng pinya ay nagagamit. Kaya, kailangan din  natin gamitin lahat ang mga ibinigay ng gobyerno at alagaan natin ito.”

Currently the PPF is producing dried pineapple, pineapple jam and pineapple candy. It has established two demo-farms with an area of 3.3 hectares. They will also be venturing into pineapple juice, pineapple fiber and sale of planting materials. The wastes from their pineapple will be used as animal feeds for the livestock animals in the RDPTC.

“With this truck and the assistance of the different government agencies like DA, Departments of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Trade and Industry (DTI), Science and Technology (DOST), Bicol University (BU) and Philippine Fiber Development Industry (PhilFIDA), I believe na magpaprofit ang mga members namin pati ang asosasyon namin,” de Castro said.

According to Balbedina, Casiguran has only 60 hectares for pineapple in 2015. At present, they have expanded to 75 hectares just like the membership of their association from mere 50 to 76 farmer-members and still counting. (jaysonmgonzales)

Rev. Msgr. Francisco P. Monje of the Parish of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary blesses the Hauling Truck.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony during the Blessing and Formal Turn-Over of the Hauling Truck. From left, RDPTC Superintendent Dolores Ricafranca, DA-Bicol FOD OIC-Chief Dr. Mary Grace DP Rodriguez, and Congresswoman Evelina Escudero.

RDPTC Superintendent Dolores Ricafranca welcomes the guests, members of the CPGAI, representatives from DA-Bicol and other government agencies.

DA-Bicol FOD OIC-Chief and HVCDP Regional Coordinator Dr. Mary Grace DP Rodriguez delivers her message.

Congresswoman Evelina G. Escudero also delivers her message.

CPGAI President Francisco A. De Castro expresses his thanks to the DA-Bicol.

The formal turn-over of the Hauling Truck was witnessed by Casiguran Vice Mayor Ramon B. Escudero, RDPTC Superintendent Dolores Ricafranca, DA-Bicol FOD OIC-Chief and HVCDP Regional Coordinator Dr. Mary Grace DP Rodriguez, Congresswoman Evelina G. Escudero, CPGAI President Francisco De Castro, and CPGAI Secretary Jason Balbedina.

CPGAI Secretary Jason Balbedina sprays the newly-acquired truck with champagne.

The guests, attendees and representatives of the different agencies showed their thumbs-up as a gesture of gratitude and good luck.