Eleven People’s Organizations (POs) composed of farmer-cooperators from Leyte and Samar showcased their sweetpotato products during the Sweetpotato–Industry Strategic Program (SP-ISP) Business Launch and Product Exhibit held at Robinsons Place, Tacloban City in Leyte last January 26, 2018.
Through the event, the PO members, who were typhoon Yolanda victims, were given opportunities to explore potential markets for innovative sweetpotato products. This social and economic empowerment has helped POs to disprove the connotation that sweetpotato or kamote is “a crop of the poor” or staple food only for those who cannot afford to buy and eat rice thrice a day.
The event is considered a milestone of the research and development (R&D) program titled “S&T-based Sweetpotato Value Chain Development for Food in Tarlac, Albay, Leyte and Samar” funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD).
Under the program, the PO members were capacitated and trained through a Farmer Business School (FBS) that lasted for eight months. This was done through the inter-agency collaboration among Department of Agriculture–Local Government Unit (DA-LGU), DOST Region 8 offices, Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI Region 8), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI-Region 8), Food and Drug Administration (FDA-Region 8), and private companies specializing in processing and manufacturing agricultural food products.
Led by Dr. Julieta R. Roa of the Philippine Root Crops Research and Training Center, Visayas State University (PhilRootcrops, VSU), the activity served as a platform to share, discuss, and understand different business models and strategies. Experts from said government agencies and owners of successful food manufacturing business establishments in the region served as the resource speakers of the event.
On behalf of DOST-PCAARRD Acting Executive Director Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora, Dr. Jocelyn E. Eusebio, Director of the Crops Research Division (CRD) of DOST-PCAARRD, expressed her appreciation for the dedication of the members of the POs, Dr. Roa and her team in developing sweetpotato-based products to strengthen the industry. She added that with the success of the program, sweetpotato is now an important crop that can be developed into different food products such as pastries, pasta noodles, chips, and wine, which can help uplift the lives of farmers.
Dr. Jose L. Bacusmo, Director of Research of VSU, closed the opening program and officially opened the venue for public taste testing of the featured products.
With the success of the SP-based product launch, the POs are now preparing the requirements to register the business and formally establish a physical store in close coordination with government agencies and business development services.