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18 June 2021

La Trinidad, Benguet –As part of the government’s efforts in strengthening postharvest handling and delivery of highland crops, the Department of Science and Technology-Cordillera Administrative Region (DOST-CAR) in partnership with the DOST- Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) and the Benguet Provincial Local Government Unit (PLGU) has jumpstarted a project on packaging technology and logistics to upgrade the Benguet Cold Chain (BCC) facility in Wangal, La Trinidad, Benguet.

The joint project, which kicked-off on May 1, 2021, will involve technology transfer through the provision of PhP8.2M worth of equipment as well as appropriate capability-building activities for the processing facility’s personnel. An operational packaging line at the BCC will serve to effectively package fresh and semi-processed (i.e. pre-cut, washed, ready-to-cook) agricultural products such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, bell pepper, carrots, and strawberry. For their part, the Benguet PLGU has allotted P8.15M for building renovations to foster adjustments through the project.

Known as the Salad Bowl of the Philippines, the province of Benguet boasts of being the top producer of fresh semi-temperate vegetables. Upland farmers have constantly faced the challenges of income loss due to farm-to-market issues such as improper handling, packaging and transport of these perishable goods, not to mention the lack of postharvest storage facilities.

The project, through the DOST’s Smart Food Value Chain Program for the New Normal, is targeted to be operational by November this year. Through this S&T intervention, it is expected that the shelf life of the farmers' produce shall be extended, postharvest losses of crops minimized, and income of upland farmers consequently increased.

This collaborative project is being implemented to empower farmers and agricultural workers in the community with more adaptive and inclusive science, technology and innovation programs for the benefit of the people of Cordillera.// Christian Sandoval