AgriLink 2016 to Highlight Negros Island

The 23rd edition of Agrilink which will be held on October 6-8 will highlight the newly formed Negros Island Region, it was announced by Antonio V. Roces, president of the Foundation for Resource Linkage and Development (FRLD). The three-day event will be held at the World Trade Center at the corner of Puyat Avenue and Macapagal Blvd., Pasay City.

Roces said that Agrilink, the biggest and most influential agricultural trade show in the country, has for its theme “Negros, a Model of Agribusiness Resiliency.” The theme highlights the sturdiness and the strength of the agricultural industries of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental through an improved and integrated focus on the chain of agribusiness activities – from production inputs, the use of new and appropriate technologies, value adding, market diversification, strategic product development, retailing, and marketing.

The island region’s agriculture industry has proven its resiliency in the face of ASEAN competition for both provinces. The Philippine Statistics Authority reports that in 2014, the Negros Island region had a combined production of 14.6 million tons of sugar, 271,000 mt coconut, 161,000 mt banana, 92,000 mt saba banana, 30,000 mt sweet potato and 54,000 mt cassava. The new region also has a sizeable combined production of hogs at 86,743 mt in 2015.

In its aquaculture industry, notable gains were seen in the value of their production of milkfish, tilapia, prawns, white shrimp, catfish, grouper, oyster, mussel and seaweeds. Its inland municipal fisheries have seen stable value and production of eel, mullet and spade fish as well as blue and mangrove crabs. Its commercial fisheries have also seen steady production, particularly the big-eyed scad, frigate and yellow fin tuna, Indian mackerel and sardines, threadfin bream, roundscad and squid.

Roces also said that “agriculture employs around 30% of the whole workforce for each province, so a robust agricultural industry is essential. It is a means of enhancing competitiveness and innovations in research and development, and generating employment and income that underpin sustainable livelihood for the farmers and fisherfolks. Agribusiness, in particular, plays an important role in designing and implementing viable regional and export-oriented industries that can create lucrative opportunities in value-added goods and services.”

According to the FRLD head, agribusiness has been identified in the island region as a focal area for infrastructure support, trade promotion and investment. For instance, the island region is a major producer of sugar, accounting for two-thirds of the country’s total output. Complemented with over 12 milling facilities, distilleries and refineries, the region’s sugar industry has also diversified into various value-added products such as acetylene, which is used in heavy industries, as well as fertilizers, bio-plastics, ethanol, beauty products, rum, molasses and vinegar.

Another byproduct, bagasse, is used by many milling facilities to commercially generate and dispatch electricity catering to nearby regions and provinces. These include the facilities of First Farmers Holdings, Hawaiian Philippines Co., Victorias Milling and Universal Robina Corp.

The island is also in the forefront of organic agriculture. According to the Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Agriculture Program, over 16,000 hectares of land are already being utilized to produce organic produce, from the famous Mt. Kanlaon coffee to gourmet rice, muscovado sugar, mango, papaya, squash, lettuce, pork cuts and various herbs. To support the industry, the DA has earmarked R207 million, with R7 million already planned for production support services such as market development, training and education, distribution of organic fertilizer as well as rice and vegetable seeds for lowland and upland areas in both provinces.

Supported by the DA, its regional units and allied agencies as well as co-organized by over 30 agribusiness and food organizations, Agrilink 2016 will feature local and international products and technologies at the expanded exhibit area of the World Trade Center. This 23rd edition of Agrilink will, as usual, offer free entrance to the indoor exhibits, live animals and plant displays outdoors, as well as seminars, technical workshops and investment forums.