DA to put up P914-M agri trading centers

THE Department of Agriculture will construct four Agri-Pinoy Trading Centers (APTCs), totaling P914 million, that will benefit at least 12,000 farmers and livestock raisers in Benguet, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, and Southern Mindanao.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the establishment of APTCs is part of the Aquino government’s continuing efforts to enable small farmers earn more profit as they will have a venue to sell their products directly to institutional buyers.

The DA will put up 10 more APTCs in the next two years, said Secretary Alcala, who signed the respective memorandum of agreement with the APTC beneficiaries, September 14, 2012, at the DA-BSWM convention hall in Quezon City.

The initial four APTCs will rise up in La Trinidad, Benguet; Urdaneta City, Pangasinan; Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija; and at Kabacan, North Cotabato.

The establishment of APTCs is spearheaded by the DA through its Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) led by Director Leandro H. Gazmin, and APTC Program Director Arnulfo F. Mañalac.

The Benguet APTC, worth P460 million, will be constructed in a four-hectare lot, at the ‘Strawberry Fields,’ owned by the Benguet State University (BSU). It will serve as a major trading center for Cordillera “chopsuey” vegetables that include lettuce, broccoli, carrots, chayote, potatoes, and other temperate crops. It will benefit at least 5,000 Cordillera farmers and their families.

The Urdaneta and Cabanatuan APTCs will have lowland and so-called ‘pinakbet’ vegetables as major commodities for sale, and will directly benefit at least 6,000 farmers.

Finally, the APTC at the University of Southern Mindanao (USM), in Kabacan, North Cotabato, will serve as a Halal Training and Development Center. It will feature a modern halal slaughterhouse for goat, sheep and beef cattle. It will benefit at least 1,000 livestock farmers in North Cotabato and nearby areas.

The APTCs are patterned after a successful agricultural trading center, calledSentrong Pamilihan ng Produktong Agrikultura ng Quezon, in Sariaya. The facility was established in 2006, which is one of the major initiatives of Secretary Alcala when he served as a Representative of the 2nd District of Quezon.

Since then the Sentrong Pamilihan has increased the productivity and incomes of Quezon vegetable farmers, enabling them to send their children to school, renovated and put up new houses, and bought farm equipment and vehicles.

Alcala said the support and intervention of the DA does not begin and end with the establishment of the APTCs. He said the farmers, traders and institutional buyers should forge a mutual and continuing production and marketing agreement to ensure that everybody benefits throughout the food supply chain.

Among the APTC proponents at MOA signing were: Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan, Benguet Rep. Ronald Cosalan, BSU President Ben Ladilad, Benguet Farmers’ Marketing Cooperative President Aurelio Lapniten, Urdaneta City Mayor Amadeo Perez IV, USM President Jesus Antonio Derije, and Nueva Ecija Vegetables Growers’ Association Chairman Jerry Agpalo.

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