The Foundation for Resource Linkage and Development (FRLD), together with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and its allied agencies and over 30 major Philippine trade and agricultural associations, will be highlighting Eastern Visayas and its coconut sector in this year’s Agrilink, Foodlink and Aqualink happening on October 3 to 5 at the World Trade Center Manila. Agrilink’s regional focus will cover Biliran, Eastern and Northern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, and Samar.

Despite being a primarily agricultural region, data from Philippine Statistics Authority show that Eastern Visayas unfortunately lags behind in terms of agricultural growth. According to Elvira Torres, DA’s regional technical director for research and regulations, 60 to 70% of Eastern Visayas’ agricultural lands are planted with coconut trees, but its coconut sector still faces challenges in its supply and value chains.

Torres said that the regional DA office has been earmarking investments on infrastructures like farm-to-market roads and cold storage and oil milling facilities. In fact, PhilMech recently inaugurated a technology management and demonstration center in Abuyog, Leyte, which aims to provide farmers easier access to modern farming technologies, including machineries that can be borrowed by farmer associations. DA also has other measures like rice programs for farmers that will ease drawbacks from rice tariffication. In Northern Samar, 200 hectares have been eyed to serve as a production area for high-yielding rice seed varieties certified by PhilRice, which will be then given to farmers.

Jeffrey delos Reyes, regional manager of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) in Eastern Visayas, said that this can be mitigated through value-adding. Coconut farmers, for instance, can diversify their produce into food products like virgin coconut oil, organic sugar, coconut water or juice, and tuba (wine); cosmetic ingredients like shell charcoal and activated carbon; and industrial products like methyl ester, which is used in biodiesel. PCA and other local government agencies like DOST, DTI and DENR are also actively supporting social enterprises and agribusinesses. In Bagong Bayan, Bato, Leyte, there’s Lolo Bobby’s Handicrafts that is already exporting artisanal handicrafts, mostly made from coconut materials, to other countries. In Palo, Leyte, the E.F. Winery agribusiness naturally ferment and age locally-sourced coconut sap into wines and spirits.

Aside from featuring a variety of agricultural products and services, Agrilink 2019 will also highlight the most up-to-date and ground-breaking inputs, technologies and alliances that can enhance the profitability of the interdependent industries of agriculture, aquaculture, and food. The three-day event will include free seminars, live animal and plant display and other interactive activities that will promote and enhance the potential of different agricultural markets.

For free seminar participation, email frld.agrilink@gmail.com. Visitors can also pre-register their attendance through www.agrilink.org or its official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/agrilinkPH.