To heighten interest and encourage investment in the production, processing, and research & development of indigenous crops of Cagayan Valley, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Region 2, in partnership with Ideabridge Agri-Food Innovation, conducted a webinar entitled “Indigenous Crops Cultivation and Processing: Key to Food Security” via Zoom last 30 June 2021.

Regional Director (RD) Leah Pulido Ocampo of DTI-Region 2 said that the recently conducted market trends and opportunities on Region 2’s high value crops in Southeast Asia revealed the potential of indigenous crops as an alternative to meat-based products and a solution to food insecurity.

“Hence, we dig deeper into how our indigenous crops can be a key to food security and economic upliftment of our people. This is timely because of the challenges brought about by the pandemic and the African swine fever (ASF) infestation, which has left us looking for alternative protein sources that may be offered in the market by our micro-small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), farmer groups, research & development (R&D) practitioners,” she added.

One of the resource speakers, Krysthal Vasallo, co-founder of Ideabridge Agrifood Innovation, presented the global and local food trends in the food industry. She also shared plant-based food trends in Australia which include legumes & pulses (peas, lentils, faba beans, mung beans), grains & seeds (wheat, corn, quinoa, oats), and fruit meat (jackfruit).

Moreover, Dr. Joan Oñate Narciso, Future Food Fellow and Postdoctoral Researcher of ETH Zurich Switzerland, discussed food security, major crops and its traditional varieties, and indigenous crops in Philippine culture. These include root crops and tubers, traditional upland rice and wetland of the North and traditional local foods.

In his closing message, Michael Paggabao, Officer-in-Charge & Division Chief of Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Development Division said that Region 2’s direction towards preserving heritage and cultural identities which has already been incorporated in the product development initiatives for the non-food sector, can be adopted similarly for indigenous crops. “This is certainly not the end of this, and we hope to involve all our partners in the government and academe and our private stakeholders in our next steps. We hope to take advantage of our inclination as an agricultural region in pushing this trend forward”, Paggabao remarked.

The activity was well attended by researchers from the academe, government agencies, NGOs, MSMEs, and farmers of Cagayan Valley and other regions. ♦

Date of Release: 2 July 2021