ASPIRE to aid farmers, fishermen in Region 1: DA exec

CALASIAO, Pangasinan — Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Jose Gabriel La Viña  is urging farmers and fishermen here  to take advantage of the government’s ASPIRE (Agribusiness Support for Promotion and Investment in Regional Exposition) program, to help them enhance and promote their agricultural products.

La Viña was the keynote speaker during the opening program of the three-day ASPIRE Regional Agri-Aqua Fair 2018 held on Friday at a mall here.

In his speech, he said that ASPIRE is a program of the DA in cooperation with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce Industry (PCCI), which was launched last year.

“ASPIRE can help farmers and fishermen for their marketing. We will also give them technology and training for them to become agri-businessmen, because if they are not knowledgeable in business, they will not be able to maximize their products, wherein middlemen and big companies are benefiting but not the farmers or fishermen themselves,” La Viña said.

Regional Director Florante Leal of DTI in Ilocos region, in an interview with newsmen, said DTI supports fishermen and farmers through their programs such as the Shared Service Facility, which provides machineries to their groups to be used in processing and packaging their agri-products.

“For the agri-products to be competitive, ensuring its packaging quality is necessary, while the Department of Science and Technology is our partner in ensuring the safety of products and securing the necessary food permits,” Leal said.

La Viña also said that through the regional fair, the government is able to introduce its projects and programs to the farmers and fishermen, who, in turn, could inform the government of their needs.

Aside from promotion of their products, ASPIRE also informs farmers and fishermen on how to avail loans with lower interest rate from government banks, he added.

Other topics to be discussed during the fair are: International Market Trends and Opportunities of High Value Crops; Micro-Financing Program for Small Scale Agri-preneurs; Business Registration and Cost; Barangay Micro-Business Enterprise Law; Export Procedure and Protocols for Agri-Commodities; Export- Certification and Phytosanitary Certification System and Product Packaging and Labeling.

A trade fair and exhibit was opened today with 44 exhibitors from Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan showcasing various products including organic fruits and vegetables; fishery products; cornhusk by-products; inabel products and buri handicraft, among others. Hilda Austria/