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  • Writer's pictureAgroecology X

Communique of the National Peoples’ Food Systems Summit Food Processing Workshop

Members of the Agroecology X Network, together with SUKI Network, SIBAT, and AGHAM, held the Food Processing Workshop entitled “Usapang Agritek: Food processing sa Pinas, kumusta na?” last July 15, 2021. The sectoral workshop is part of the nationwide effort to know the plight of the different sectors in the food industry, craft an action plan, and present it in the upcoming National People's Food Systems Summit headed by the Agroecology X Network.

The seventh in a series of food systems workshops under the National Peoples’ Food Systems Summit, this sectoral workshop tackled the state of the Philippine food processing industry and its players, especially the micro, small, and medium ones, the challenges that the industry face, and the possible solutions in sight.

Among the speakers were Engr. Rosemarie Garcia of the Department of Science and Technology's Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI), Ms. Rosela Gomez of the Department of Science and Technology's Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI), and local food processors from Calumpit and Cordillera.

Engr. Garcia discussed the work of DOST-FNRI. They discussed how the institute develops products and the processes products go through before being offered for commercialization. They also discussed the services that the institute offers to stakeholders in the public sector who are in need of government support.

Ms. Gomez discussed the mandate of the different divisions under the DOST-ITDI. They also shared the work the institute does, namely research and development, technology transfer, facilities, and other services they offer to the S&T stakeholders.

After the representatives from the government discussed the state services currently being offered to the public, the floor was given to the representatives of the local food processors.

Dina Mazo, an entrepreneur from Calumpit, shared their special sausage called Calumpit Longganisa. They narrated that in normal circumstances, they would earn enough for a living, but their profits fell during the onset of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera shared their non-formal catering services project, which turned into squash noodle production due to health restrictions, as part of their supplemental livelihood programs for the indigenous women in a mining community in the Cordillera displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges they face such as fluctuations of prices of raw materials and health restrictions, the Center intends to continue their community-based noodles processing training to help the community.

Reactor panelist Marvin Manlapas of the UP Institute of Small Scale Industries said that while they acknowledge the services being offered by DOST-FNRI and DOST-ITDI, the problem lies with the accessibility of these services to the local food processors, especially from the MSMEs and local communities. They also shared insights with local food processors Dina Mazo and CDRP based on their presentations.

Pablito Aquino, the president of the Saint Paul Food Corporation, said in a written reaction that as of now, production is weak and slow because the economy is down. They said that the buying power of the populace fell because the unemployment rate is high. Some of the challenges they face are high rent, oil and electricity price hikes, inflation, dying coconut industry, among others.

After the presentations, the speakers and participants actively discussed during the open forum.

Natalie Pulvinar, the president of the Philippine Society of Nutritionist-Dietitians and Chief Political Affairs of the office of Bayan Muna Representative Eufemia Cullamat, provided a synthesis of the entire workshop. They also provided a roadmap to a genuinely pro-people food systems is a comprehensive plan that is fundamentally anchored on self-reliance and food self-sufficiency, a policy framework of preferential option for locally-produced goods, and genuine agrarian reform that would promote rural development and national industrialization.

In closing, as the network marks the end of the series of sectoral workshops in preparation for the National People’s Food Systems Summit, Marlon Lester Gueta of the Agroecology X Network emphasized the interrelation of the food processing sector to the overall Philippine food and agriculture industry. The series of sectoral workshops reaffirmed the possibility of a self-reliant, self-sufficient, and pro-people food system that is responsive to the needs of local food producers, processors, and consumers. Lastly, Mr. Gueta invited everyone to the upcoming National People's Food Systems Summit on August 30-31, 2021. ###

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