Food hub, trading post for farm products for Lumads to open in GenSan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 30 June) – A food hub and community-based trading post for various farm products will open soon in a village here through the convergence of various government agencies.

Rafael Abrogar II, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)-Region 12 director, said the preparations are underway for the development of a pilot food hub as part of the implementation of the newly-launched Indigenous People Empowered as Agripreneurs towards a Collective End (IPEACE).

He said it will be established in Purok Sto. Niño, Barangay San Jose, which was among the program’s four pilot areas in Region 12 or Soccsksargen.

The other sites are Barangay Alegria, Alabel town in Sarangani; Barangay Datalblao in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat; and Barangay Manobo in Magpet, North Cotabato.

Under the program, which is supported by the city government, members of the Blaan tribe in Barangay San Jose will be organized and trained on agricultural production, entrepreneurship and other related aspects.

A production area and food terminal or trading post will be set up in the village to link farmers with direct buyers and retailers and help sustain the project, which was initiated by the TESDA Director General, Sec. Isidro Lapeña, the cabinet officer for regional development and security of Soccsksargen.

Abrogar said in a statement the project aims to provide sustainable livelihood for members of indigenous peoples’ (IP) communities here and help them become productive and self-reliant.

He said it also seeks to contribute to the food security programs of the government and prevent the IPs from being lured into joining the New People’s Army.

“This will help address the problem of poverty in our communities, which is among the root causes of communist insurgency,” he said, quoting Lapeña.

TESDA launched IPEACE in parts of the region last week to complement with the convergence initiatives of local government units and national government agencies in line with the implementation of the “whole-of-nation” approach of President Rodrigo Duterte in addressing internal insurgency.

The strategy was provided for in the President’s Executive Order No. 70, which paved the way for the establishment of the local task forces to end local communist armed conflict.

For the development of the food hub here, at least 40 members of the Blaan tribe will undergo intensive skills training in agriculture, entrepreneur, marketing and financing to sustain their livelihood initiative.

Cezario Joel Espejo, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-Region 12 director, said the beneficiaries were covered by the flagship Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps.

He said officials of Barangay San Jose have allotted a one-hectare farm that will be used by recipients as production site for vegetables and other agricultural products.

DSWD-12 will assist beneficiaries in terms of community organizing and mobilization, he said. (MindaNews)