By Shiela Mae H. Toreno (DA-6 Information)

Aiming to connect farmers directly with consumers, the Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Office recently launched the ‘Tinda sa Parola’ and ‘Bugas para sa Masa’ on at the DA Regulatory Compound in Parola, Iloilo City.

“We wanted to reduce the layers of traders and middlemen who control the price of agricultural products before it reaches the consumers. We hold this Tinda sa Parola as our commitment to Secretary Manny Piñol who, together with President Rodrigo Duterte, launched the TienDA para sa mga Bayani last month at Camp Hernandez in Dingle, Iloilo,” said DA regional executive director Remelyn Recoter.

Fresh and organically grown fruits and vegetables, rice, dried fish and other agrifishery products from different towns across the region were sold at farmgate prices during the fair. “Both farmers and consumers can benefit from this new marketing concept. Consumers could save R4 to R8 as price difference when they buy agricultural products here,” Recoter noted.

In Dingle, there is a huge difference in price range between the farmgate price and market buying price of agri-products, according to municipal agriculturist Marfe Quinlat. “Traders are buying banana for only P10 per kilo from the farmers, but they are selling it for P25 in the public market in Dingle. Thus, we are holding this Tinda (sa Parola) to capacitate our farmers in increasing their [incomes] when they sell their products directly to the consumers,” explained Recoter.

DA Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division chief Maria Teresa Solis mentioned that this Tinda sa Parola will be conducted twice every month. “With our provincial government partners, we are also going to conduct the same activity twice a month in all provinces in Western Visayas.”

Onion and garlic growers of Miagao, Iloilo will be invited to the next Tinda sa Parola. “We have provided them [with a] R20 million loan fund under the Production Loan Easy Access program. And we are going to assist them in the marketing,” said Recoter.

Alongside Tinda sa Parola, the DA also conducted the ‘Bugas para sa Masa’ where consumers can buy rice at affordable prices. The agency partners with the Dingle Multi-Purpose Cooperative (formerly known as FACOMA) in the program, where consumers can buy rice for only P34 to P38 per kilo. The Cooperative, as a recipient of the Rice Processing Center from DA, handles and assists rice farmers in the production, harvesting, drying, milling, and marketing of their produce.

Recoter assured the public that there is no rice shortage in the region. “Western Visayas is 124 percent rice self-sufficient. All provinces, except for Negros Occidental, are more than 100 percent sufficient. In fact, farmers now are enjoying the buying price of palay [which is at] P17 to P22 [per] kilo.”

DA also featured the Rice and Corn Blend as the new health and wellness staple food for the Filipinos. “Bigas Mais (Rice and Corn Blend) is one of the strategies of DA to reduce the pressure on the rice industry. This rice and corn blend is a healthier choice for rice eaters since corn has [a] higher vitamin content and is slower to digest,” explained Recoter.

Rice and corn blend is sold for only P35 per kilo. It comes in three variants, the regular with 70 percent rice-30 percent corn, special rice 50 percent rice-50 percent corn, and the premium with 30 percent rice-70 percent corn.

The Dingle MPC, Alimodian Vegetable Growers Association, Estancia Stall Owners Association, Vegetable Growers Association of Tubungan, Mapili Farmers Association of San Enrique, Leon Vegetable Growers Association, San Dionisio Multi-Sectoral Integrated Association, Island Marketing in Guimaras, Ruzyll’s Food Products, Zarraga Vegetable Growers Association, and the Philippine Carabao Center at WVSU-Calinog took part in the launching of Tinda sa Parola. They generated a total sales of P135,576.00.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s April 2018 issue.