LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The initial operation of the P1 billion Agri Pinoy Trading Center here must be handled by a professional management team in order to maximize the potentials of locally grown vegetables to gain access in the high-end and international markets, Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan said.
Cosalan is one of the signatories to the multipartite memorandum of agreement with the Department of Agriculture, Benguet provincial government, La Trinidad municipal government and the state-run Benguet State University (BSU) that paved the way for the put up of the state-of-the-art facility in this capital town.
He proposed that the professional management team that will be created for the trading center’s operation should only be good for a certain period of time, specifically three to five years, before the management of the facility will be turned over to qualified members of a local management team.
“We are not abandoning our right over the management of the facility but let us first leave it to the experts while our local representatives will be undergoing the necessary trainings under the management team,” Cosalan stressed.
The lawmaker pointed out farmers will not be deprived of representations in the management team but they must be selected through a transparent province-wide selection process and not merely handpicked by politicians.
Cosalan said officials of the defunct National Agri-Business Corporation (NABCOR), who were earlier groomed as the ones to manage the facility, are already out of the picture and it is now the agriculture department that will select those who will initially manage the facility subject to their confirmation.
According to him, it will be unfair to other qualified farmer representatives from the different municipalities if the agriculture department will not conduct a province-wide selection of who will represent the farmers in the management team in order to avoid political interventions that would derail the operation of the facility.
“Let us leave the management team members to decide on the operational policies in order to avoid too much politics from being involved. We agree to the proposals for professionals to initially manage the trading post but there should be locals who will be trained in order for them to takeover in the future,” Cosalan said.
Earlier, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala committed that the state-of-the-art trading facility in the province will be operational by March this year and that only the head of the management team will be chosen by the official while other members of the team will be coming from the province.
Cosalan cited the importance of available processing and packaging in the facility for highland vegetables so that locally produced vegetables will have value added in order to compete in both the high-end and international markets, especially with the implementation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nationals (ASEAN) free trade agreement that started early this year. He called on farmers’ groups to unite and select their own qualified representatives to the management team so that the facility’s operation will not be delayed this March.