Mindanaoan agri-fishery, crafts fair held in Manila

Published October 23, 2020, 8:49 PM

by Minka Klaudia Tiangco

Manileños now have a chance to buy affordable goods sold by Mindanaoan farmers, fishermen, and craftsmen in the three-day “MindaTienda goes to Manila” fair.

Over 50 exhibitors will be selling meat and seafood products, fresh produce, and handicrafts in tents set up at the Kartilya ng Katipunan from October 23 to 25.

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso and Mindanao Development Authority (MDA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol led the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the event Friday afternoon.

The project aims to help farmers, fishermen, and craftsmen from Mindanao to recover from their losses during the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

Domagoso urged Manila city residents, including those from major supermarkets, restaurants, and hotels, to patronize the cheap, high quality, and delicious products in the fair.

“Today is your opportunity to acquire products, upscale quality at tamang presyo lang (and at the right price), direct and fresh coming from the south of the country,” he said in his speech before the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday afternoon.

“The very logic of this program is to really expose the ability and capacity of Mindanao, that when I was young… laging pinaliliwanag sa’min ng mga guro namin na ang pagkain, malaking porsyento nito ay nanggagaling sa Mindanao (our teachers would always explain to us that a big percentage of the country’s food comes from Mindanao),” he added.

“Today, you’ll meet those people behind the production and those people who are really trying to help us here in Luzon to have food security,” he said.

Piñol, who was also the former agriculture secretary, said 45 percent of the food needed in the country is produced in Mindanao.

“‘Pag hindi kami mag-tanim sa Mindanao, magugutom ang buong Pilipinas (If we don’t plant in Mindanao, the entire Philippines will starve),” he said.

However, the island remains underdeveloped due to conflicts in the area and inaccessibility of the market, leading to unfair payment for the farmers and fisherfolk’s labor, the MDA official said.

Domagoso also lamented how local products are exported to other countries before being shipped back to the Philippines when the goods can be bought directly from the country’s farmers and fisherfolk.

Piñol appealed to government officials and the public to help Mindanaoan farmers and fisherfolk get fair payment for their products, saying that this will lead to the island’s development, and later, food security for the entire country.

“For as long as we do not develop the countryside, we will always have problems in this country. For as long as we do not ensure the food supply, we will always have problems in this country,” he said.

“Come with me and I will show you the vastness of Mindanao, and I will show you the richness of Mindanao, and I will show you that Mindanao alone can feed this entire country and beyond,” he added.

“Ang hinihingi lang po namin ay bigyan niyo kami ng patas na presyo sa aming produkto… Bigyan niyo po kami ng patas na presyo at makikita niyo kung paano uunlad ang Mindanao (We are only asking for a fair price for our products… Give us a fair price and you will see how much Mindanao will progress),” he said.

Piñol also invited consumers to give suggestions on what goods they should produce so they can compete better in the market.

“Tell us what you need, tell us what you want, and we will plant it for you. Let Mindanao be the garden that you can grow things in the market. We will deliver what the market needs,” he said.

Domagoso said the MDA is welcome to conduct similar fairs in the future so that they can give food security to residents of the city as well as provide opportunities to workers from rural parts of the country.

(photos from MDA)