The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is pushing for the acquisition of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licenses for Palawan processed food products manufactured by agrarian reform communities (ARCs) that would enable them to supply to institutional buyers.
Fedeleo de Guzman, agrarian reform officer of DAR, said Monday it is possible to do with the help of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) that had already assisted through product development, labeling, packaging, and others.
De Guzman said the trade fairs and the links they help the producers make have helped in introducing their products to institutional buyers even outside the Philippines.
“Merong maraming buyers na interested sa mga products natin, merong Pinoy na naka-based sa United States pero medyo challenging lang kasi kailangan pa ng FDA. Meron sila doong standards at kailangan yung may license,” he said.
He admitted that this is the gap that government agencies need to fill in for the agri-based coops to become more competitive and to enable them to supply the export market.
This is the reason why the DAR need the help of the DTI for their ARCs in the province.
He said businesses involved in the importation, exportation, trading and distribution of food, drinks, and other related products, need to obtain a license to operate (LTO) and certificate of product registration (CPR) from the FDA.
Producers of cashew-based products, coco jams, processed meat, taro chips, ginger-based products are among those assisted by the DAR and DTI partnership.
The package of assistance extended to agri-based coops was made possible by the synchronization of the DTI and DAR in improving products produced by ARC.
De Guzman further explained that a joint project of DAR and DTI has scaled up Palawan-based processed food products from ARC and they gained access in national trade fairs that opened their market potentials to the bigger market.
The joint assistance of two government agencies helped these agri-based cooperatives in overall product development.
“Ang mga produkto na pino-produce ng ating mga ARC ay nagkakaroon ng value-adding, tinulungan ng DTI sa packaging, labeling, product development at iba pang aspects, para sila ay makakapag-compete sa market,” De Guzman explained.
Mayline Delliro, trade industry development specialist of DTI, said that in Palawan, the synchronized program between them and DAR started in 2014, to bring the services and training to these rural communities, promoting their locally-manufactured products, and help generate employment in many far-flung communities.
“Four years na tayong may synchronized program sa Palawan, at ang mga tinutulungang agrarian reform communities (ARC) ay nili-link natin sa mga market matching, trade fairs, at iba pa,” she said.
Delliro explained that their objective is to create strong and viable enterprises in the rural areas, and the partnership of DTI and DAR has been instrumental in bringing out the best local products in Palawan.