NAGA CITY –  Vice President Ma. Leonor (Leni) G. Robredo graces  this year’s  staging of the ASPIRE event in her home city on July 10, 2019 which showcased the  various agricultural products  of  some 70  local farmers, processors  and small and  medium entrepreneurs.    ASPIRE which stands for  Agribusiness Support for Promotion and Investment in Regional Expositions is a program of the Department of Agriculture   which aims to bridge the gap between the farmers, producers and processors, buyers, investors  and consumers.

In her message the vice president urged  for a change or shift in the mindset of program implementers.  She said  that  development program implementers should not  measure success  or outcome in terms of the number of beneficiaries served or number of goods or interventions provided.  “We should focus more on the impact on the income and  the  social benefits of these assistance on the life of the people  we are assisting”  

She  underscored the need to take into account the  current needs and  baseline data when providing  intervention and assistance to  farmers and other  stakeholders. She cited  the result of the survey conducted by her office prior to their launching of her Angat Buhay Program.    According to her the survey result showed that most farmers  in Camarines Sur  plant eggplant. “ But  this is not  what most business establishments and restaurants  and traders  in the province need. So there is a mismatch and we need to address this,” she underscored.

For his part  newly  designated  DA – Bicol  OIC- Regional Executive Director  Rodel P. Tornilla pointed out that the ASPIRE program   is a convergence undertaking of government and private sector  which aims to integrate  efforts in the entire agri-business value chain.  Thus, the DA  has partnered with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry , the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce, the Provincial Chamber of Commerce, the DTI and the City government of Naga and other partners.  He assured of DA’s commitment  to help the local producers and SMEs and  to aggressively  promote  Bicol’s regional commodities such as pili, abaca, gabi and queen pineapple.  He said that at the regional level the ASPIRE Program is being orchestrated by the Agribusiness Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD)

Clarin P. Tobias, the regional governor of the PCCI explained that the role of the business sector  in said convergence is to mentor the  small and medium entrepreneurs in terms of determining costing, innovations, improving quality and value adding.

Meanwhile,  Dr. Bernadette F. San Juan, DA Director of the  Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service who came all the way from Quezon City announces the good news that DA  will now be implementing  the Sagip Saka  Act or R.A. 11321  which aimed at  “helping the agricultural and fishing communities reach their full potential, increasing farmers’ and fishermen’s incomes, and bridging gaps through public-private partnerships, thereby improving their quality of life.”

The law signed by the president on April 17 establishes the Farmers and Fisherfolk Enterprise Development Program, a comprehensive set of objectives, targets, and holistic approach in promoting the establishment of enterprise involving agricultural and fishery products.

To oversee the implementation of the program, the law creates the Farmers and Fisherfolk Enterprise Development Council, which will be chaired by DA Secretary or his duly authorized representative who is at least an undersecretary.

Members include one representative each from the DTI, the DILG, the Department of Finance, the Cooperative Development Authority, a national organization of farmers cooperatives or associations, and a national organization of fisherfolk cooperatives or associations; and two  representatives from the agriculture, food, restaurant and business sectors.

Also present during the opening ceremonies of the 4-day event were : Naga City vice-mayor  Cecilia V. de Asis  who also gave a message and some of the city councilors;  DTI director Edna Tejada; Ferdinand D. Sia, president of Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry along with other MNCCI officers; Hoover Picar, president of Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce; Adelina A. Losa , Chief of DA-AMAD V; mall manager of the SM and  the local media were also present to cover the event.  ( Emily B. Bordado/DA-RAFIS V)