(From left, front row) La Trinidad Mayor Hon. Romeo K. Salda, Benguet Governor Hon. Melchor D. Diclas, DOST Undersecretary for Research & Development Dr. Leah J. Buendia, DOST-ITDI Director Dr. Annabelle V. Briones, and DOST-CAR Regional Director Dr. Nancy A. Bantog led the inauguration of the facility.
La Trinidad, Benguet – Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Provincial Local Government Unit of Benguet inaugurated the upgraded Benguet Cold Chain (BCC) with a newly installed packaging line and cold storage chambers yesterday at Wangal, La Trinidad, Benguet.
Benguet Governor Hon. Melchor D. Diclas, DOST Undersecretary for Research & Development Dr. Leah J. Buendia, La Trinidad Mayor Hon. Romeo K. Salda, PLGU-Benguet Provincial Agriculturist Ms. Delinia Juan, DOST-ITDI Director Dr. Annabelle V. Briones, and DOST-CAR Regional Director Dr. Nancy A. Bantog led the inauguration of the facility.
The DOST has provided PhP 8.4M worth of equipment for the packaging line as well as appropriate capability-building activities for the BCC stakeholders. Likewise, the Benguet PLGU allotted P6.2M for the building renovations to house this collaborative project.
The joint project is under the DOST’s Smart Food Value Chain Program for the New Normal which aims to upgrade the capability of existing distribution centers/trading posts in the delivery of fresh and semi-processed agricultural products through the application of appropriate packaging technology and delivery system.
Governor Diclas reported that every peak season, Benguet produced over a million kilos of vegetables but post-harvest losses remain a problem for highland farmers.
DOST Secretary Renato U. Solidum Jr., in his virtual message, explained that “loses can be significantly reduced with an appropriate packaging system and post-harvest technologies.”
With this upgraded facility, Benguet Farmers can now produce packed fresh, semi-processed, and ready-to-eat highland vegetables.
Usec. Buendia hopes that the project will be in full operation towards the middle of the year generating additional income for the Benguet farmers and decreasing post-harvest losses by at least 20%.
“This project supports the modernization of the Benguet vegetable industry by providing upgraded multi-cold chain services,” said Director Briones.
DOST Undersecretary for Regional Operations Engr. Sancho A. Mabborang also explained that “this project demonstrates the Agency’s support to smart farming with the focus to leverage advance technology along the value chain.”
Meanwhile, DOST-CAR Regional Director Dr. Nancy A. Bantog encouraged farmers and stakeholders to patronized and maximize the facility. “Be ambassadors to the farmers by informing them the benefits of this facility and how it impacts on their vegetable produce,” she added.
Ms. Elizabeth Joy Punasen of Reaping Farm Fresh Corporation and one of the BCC stakeholders expressed her gratitude to DOST for identifying Benguet farmers as beneficiaries of the project. “I urge BCC stakeholders to support this initiative and work towards in making it a reality,” she added.
Present also to witness the inauguration were project consultants Ms. Daisy Tañafranca and Engr. Menandro Ortega, BCC Manager Ms. Shellanie Molitas, Project Leader Engr. Ericson T. Nolasco, Benguet Board Member Hon. Ruben E. Paoad, Owner of Haight Farm Ms. Harriet Haight Albon, DOST-CAR ARD-TS Dr. Pepita S. Picpican, DOST-Benguet Provincial Director Dr. Sheila Marie Singa-Claver, and BCC stakeholders.//MLFerrer