GENERAL SANTOS CITY — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is pushing for the development of more agri-entrepreneurs in parts of Central Mindanao or Soccsksargen region through the newly-launched innovative agribusiness support program.
Carolyn Castro, acting national director of DA’s Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service, said Friday they are set to launch a series of capability-building trainings and support initiatives for farmers in the region in line with the rollout of its Agribusiness Support for Promotion and Investment in Regional Expo (ASPIRE) program.
She said the initiative aims to help local farmers transition into entrepreneurs through support from the agency and its partners.
“Our goal is to capacitate our farmers to become entrepreneurs by assisting them in developing their products and eventually link them to potential markets,” she said in a press conference.
Castro said they have partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Region 12 and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (PCCI)-Southwestern Mindanao for the program’s rollout.
She said they signed a memorandum of agreement with the two entities for the conduct of convergence activities in the region, which was chosen as one of the five pilot areas of the ASPIRE program.
The other pilot regions are the Cordillera Administrative Region, Central Luzon, Bicol Region and Western Visayas.
CenMin or Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato, and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
DA formally launched the program as part of the ongoing three-day Regional Agri-Aqua Fair 2017 at the Robinsons Mall here.
Milagros Casis, DA-12 executive director, explained that ASPIRE is a DA agribusiness and marketing program aimed at integrating market development support services to farmers, fisherfolk, micro, small and medium enterprises and other stakeholders.
Aside from DTI-12 and PCCI-Southwestern Mindanao, she said the program’s implementation will involve the area’s private sector industry groups.
She said ASPIRE aims to uplift the agribusiness sector in the region and open more opportunities to farmer and fisherfok entrepreneurs.
“The main dish for this program is the trade fair and exhibit, which is a venue to showcase various agri-fishery commodities from all over the region,” Casis said.
As part of the trade fair, DA-12 spearheaded the conduct of technical sessions on international market trends, micro-financing programs, entrepreneurial mind setting and value chain process.
It also held an investment forum wherein various priority commodities of Region 12 were presented.(PNA)