USDA launches ‘Cold Chain’ project in Caraga

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The United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service’s (USDA/FAS) Food for Progress has launched a project to help Filipino farmers earn more income by increasing productivity and food safety, while reducing losses.

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Dubbed the Philippines Cold Chain Project (PCCP), the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the USDA, implementing partner Winrock International, and five provincial governors of the Caraga Region of Mindanao took place on February 7. Over the course of the four-year project, PCCP is expected to impact 979,000 people directly.

According to Winrock International, the Caraga Region and its five provinces are a future breadbasket for the Philippines, specifically because of their ability to supply urban centers like Manila or Cebu. The region is blessed with abundant resources, fertile lands, and diverse and attractive ecotourism sites, yet Caraga remains one of the poorest regions in the country.

PCCP will work with horticulture, meat, and fish sectors that can benefit from a cold chain, or temperature-controlled, supply system. Building effective cold chains makes it easier to produce safer food, and safer food means an increase in income for farmers and improved nutrition for families. Higher-quality, higher-value agricultural products will be able to compete in new markets as businesses and consumers demand products meeting international-quality standards. Educating producers about clean, well-preserved food, moreover, means families will not be debilitated by preventable illness.

Strengthening national cold-chain and post-harvest infrastructure are high priorities for both the USDA and the Philippine Department of Agriculture. Winrock International (www.winrock.org) has successfully managed and implemented a worldwide pipeline of more than $1 billion in contracts, cooperative agreements and grants since 1985. PCCP will also collaborate with other key organizations such as: World Food Logistics Organization, Cold Chain Association of the Philippines, Caraga High Value Vegetable Cluster Inc., First Integrated Credit Cooperative, and East West Seeds and South East Asia Fisheries Development Center.

Upon its completion, PCCP is expected to bring important economic gains to the Caraga Region and be an example for future growth in the Philippines.

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