BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya: A Japanese-based non-government organization (NGO) and its Vizcaya-based local partners have launched “Vizcaya Fresh,” a brand name for upland towns’ organic agricultural products in the province.
”Vizcaya Fresh” is a joint endeavor of Japan’s Global Links Management Institute (GLMI), the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), Vizcaya Fresh Organic Advocates Inc. (Vfoai) and other farmer and environment-based organizations.
Josephine Almirol, Vfoai marketing coordinator, said the project is an offshoot of the P10-million “Support to Improve Livelihood of Farmers through production of Organic and Reduced chemical produce in Nueva Vizcaya” or Silfor.
Nueva Vizcaya is known for being one of the biggest agriculture products suppliers of Metro Manila and neighboring provinces; these products come from the towns of Dupax del Sur, Kayapa and Kasibu, also known as the province’s vegetable bowls.
Almirol said they have finally come up with the brand after a few years of pioneering in organic farming in the province through a partnership project funded by a grant from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, GLMI and PRRM.
“In previous years, we conducted intensive market exposures and continued to get a very good response; thus, we are now launching our products with a brand to market them to various consumers and markets within and outside the province,” she said.
Almirol said the Vizcaya Fresh products ranges from root crops which are peanuts, Yacon, Gallang, Tuge, Ube and camote; and salad products such as Japanese cucumber, carrots, red and white radish, tomato and lettuce varieties.
”We observed that favorites among our consumers are fruits namely rambutan, lemon, banana, avocado, papaya, guyabano, strawberry, calamansi, pineapple, Satsuma, passion and rattan fruits; pakbet veggies such as long and short ampalaya, eggplant, green pepper, okra, sitaw, squash, tomato and wing bean,” she said.
Almirol said the thrust of their organic product is “to make Nueva Vizcaya as an Organic State by approaching whole supply chain with sustainable organic farming techniques, fair trading and bringing healthy and eco-friendly products to our markets.”
Vizcaya Fresh processed food such as squash noodle, tomato paste, tofu or tokwa, tomato sweets, chips and sesame dressing; special products like asparagus, habitsuelas seeds, honey, mas-cubado sugar, native chicken, pork and coffee, oyster and shiitake mushroom and sprouted mongo are also regularly displayed and sold at the Capitol Compound in Bayombong regularly.
GLMI and its PRRM local counterpart have been spearheading the implementation of the project in partnership with the participating local government units and other stakeholders particularly in Nueva Vizcaya’s upland communities.
In 2008, the partnership also launched “Vizcaya Green Partnership,” to promote participatory forest management in the critical watershed areas of the province.
”This is to correct unsustainable agricultural practice like kaingin by poor upland farmers which has led to environmental degradation of the upland and watershed ecosystem,” said Almirol, also an active PRRM advocate.
She said introducing upland sustainale agriculture and prudent resource use will “reduce negative impact on the environment and rehabilitate it.”
Founded in 1952, PRRM traces its roots to China where, in the early 1900s, the rural reconstruction movement was born, inspired and led by Dr. Y. C. James Yen “Yen Yangchu.”
Now PRRM, a movement committed to the cause of the Filipino peasant, began as a small group of prominent Filipinos led by Dean Conrado Benitez of the University of the Philippines; made a number of major contributions to Philippine rural development.