DA, DTI launch convergence program

A convergence program called Project ASPIRE was launched Friday during the official opening of Baragatan sa Palawan 2018 to help local farmers, fisherfolks, and micro small and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) in marketing their agricultural products to buyers and bigger markets.

ASPIRE or Agri-business Support for Promotion and Investment was launched together by the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the provincial government of Palawan led by Governor Jose Alvarez.

DA assistant secretary for agri-business Andrew Villacorta said the project’s aim “is to maximize opportunities for Palawan farmers and fisherfolks for increased income” in areas where there is a high prevalence of poverty.

It will be facilitated by DA, DTI, and the provincial government, especially through the establishment of databases and information on supplies of commodities and agricultural products available in Palawan.

ASPIRE has four components, including production support, enterprise development and industry support, investment promotion, and market promotion and development. The project was created to integrate market development services to farmers, fishers, and MSMEs.

He said that the project started last June 2017 during the signing of the memorandum of agreement with DA, DTI and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI). It was piloted first in the Bicol region, Central Luzon, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and SOCCSKSARGEN in Mindanao.

Joel Valera, regional director of DTI, said that the project will bring the producer and the buyer closer either through online transactions and other forms.

“Sa project na ito ay e-connect going online portal para merong real time inventory. Halimbawa merong buyer ng 3 tons ng kalamansi at kailangan niyang magkaroon ng information saan siya makabili at kelan ito magha-harvest dito sa Palawan,” Valera explained.

Villacorta said that since the launching of the project, they have facilitated the market matching of agricultural products from farmers themselves to institutional buyers or big markets, thus increasing the income of the farmers and producers of agricultural products.

He said that there will be more market matching that they will facilitate in order to encourage more MSMEs to engage into ASPIRE.

One of the major steps that they will undertake is the improvement of their databases which will be done by DA’s Information and Communication Technology Services (ICTS) so that there will be an updated database and flow of information on supply and demand of different agricultural commodities.

Antonio Gerundio, regional executive director of DA, told Palawan News that the project wants to build a simpler supply chain for processors and suppliers to easily purchase raw materials within an area. The processors always cite the absence of raw materials while farmers also cite the absence of the market.

Gerundio said that the products of the farmers are promoted and marketed, thereby opening bigger business opportunities for them.

“Mas magiging madali sya lalo na, na idadagdag ang paggamit ng internet, para sa pagbili ng mga products, at mahalaga na nandiyan ang collaborations ng mga government agencies tulad ng DA, DTI at chamber as the private sector,” he explained.

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