The Department of Agriculture-Cordillera (DA-CAR) celebrates with the grand opening of the Agri-tourism Fair at the Benguet Cold Chain Project Compound, Wangal, La Trinidad earlier today. This event serves as one of the highlights of the ongoing celebration of the 123rd Adivay, showcasing the rich agricultural heritage and achievements of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
At the heart of the celebrations, DA-CAR OIC-Regional Executive Director Atty. Jennilyn M. Dawayan graced the occasion as the guest speaker. In her message, she underscored the crucial role of the agency’s partners, namely the producers, consumers, and implementers, in driving agricultural success.
“At its core, there is no Cordillera without Benguet in terms of agricultural performance,” remarked Director Dawayan. She highlighted Benguet as the leading producer of semi-temperate vegetables in the country and the premier source of strawberries. A staggering 88% of CAR’s total vegetable production emanates from Benguet, which also contributes 59% of the region’s heirloom rice production. Moreover, Benguet claims a significant stake as the producer of 60% of green beans in the Cordillera and holds the sixth position nationwide. Notably, it is home to Northern Blossoms and Cut flowers and hosts two of the largest trading posts in the country.
Furthermore, she emphasized key points inspired by the Agri-tourism fair, focusing on the continued drive for food safety and quality through Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and organic agriculture. As of November 2, 2023, the Cordillera region boasts 393 GAP-certified farms, with Benguet leading the pack with 344 certified farms.
Strengthening linkages with the private sector, especially in product promotion and innovation, also emerged as a critical aspect of agriculture. The KADIWA Program serves as the catalyst, with 63 nationwide events and 16 permanent KADIWA stalls regionwide. In support, a substantial financial grant of 66.5 million pesos, with 27% allocated to Benguet, has been extended, including 14 KADIWA vehicles.
Understanding trade agreements was also emphasized, urging a thorough study of importation policies. Immediate short-term measures are under consideration, with consultations scheduled with farmers and policymakers in January 2024.
Finally, she urged the participants to support local products amid importation challenges. “Let us be the voice crying in the wilderness against smuggling. It is our responsibility as consumers, as government players, and as stakeholders to report this immediately. The DA will always be here to support,” she affirmed.
Director Dawayan also commended the unwavering efforts of the provincial government of Benguet and all partner local government units in ensuring the region’s food security.
The event was graced by the presence of Benguet Governor Melchor D. Diclas, other board members, DA-Benguet Agricultural Program Coordination Officer Lito Mocati, Provincial Agriculturist Delinia Juan, municipal mayors, representatives from various national government agencies, Farmers’ Cooperatives and Associations (FCAs), and agricultural input providers. Governor Diclas and Director Dawayan jointly led the ribbon-cutting ceremony, officially marking the commencement of the agri-trade fair which will ran until November 24, 2023.//Leny D. Mendoza