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PIA Press Release

DA-7 provides P750-T to fund DTI's Project Bayong

By Minerva BC Newman

Cebu, Philippines (21 June) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA-7) in the region turns over a check worth P750T to the Department of Trade and Industry here to fund its Project Bayong in Central Visayas.

DA-7 regional director Ricardo Oblena said, "We are giving this money to DTI because it has the expertise to roll out the various trainings needed in bayong weaving & production; skills upgrading and product development."

Oblena added, the beneficiaries of the funds are those groups and farmers that already have the capability to produce more Bayongs and in areas in the region where there are raw sources of materials for the bayong products.

The funds are sourced out from the DA's Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment program (CLEEP) of which secretary Arthur Yap is the CLEEP steward for Bohol, Oblena said.

Project Bayong has been successfully launched in Talibon, Bohol in February and was formally launched in Cebu during the trade and livelihood fair on June 12 at the Atrium in SM-Cebu as part of the Kalayaan 2000 (Independence Day) celebration.

According to the DTI here, Project Bayong is a component of the Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment program (CLEEP) of the national government that aims to protect the country's most vulnerable sectors such as the poor, returning expatriates, workers in the export industry, out-of-school youths and other marginalized groups from the threats and consequences of reduced and lost income as a consequence of global financial crisis.

Project Bayong aims to take advantage of abundant raw materials, use existing skills in rural communities and produce products that are in demand in the local and international markets, the DTI briefer reads.

The project highlights the hand-woven native bag made of pandan, buri, rattan or bamboo strips. According to DTI-7 project director, Elias Tecson, these are raw materials that are readily available in the communities of Talibon, Bien-Unido and Ubay in Bohol.

Several towns in Cebu that include Barili, Bogo, San Remegio, Sta. Fe and Bantayan Island have luscious growth of pandan and buri and they are also available in the towns of Manjuyod and La Libertad in Negros Oriental, Tecson added.

"We chose the municipality of Barili as a launch site for the project in Cebu because Barili is noted for its bayong craftsmanship, residents there make use of the local pandan material which is abundant in the area," Tecson went on.

DTI-7 regional director Asteria Caberte proudly shares the advantages of the Project Bayong. She said, this is a government project that generates and provides jobs; maximize the use of indigenous raw materials in the region; and replace non-biodegradable items.

"Project Bayong supports micro-entrepreneurship. Its production requires low investments and light technology. It generates and provides immediate jobs for rural folks and augments their income, and it encourages farmers to plant natural materials," Caberte said.

It also preserves our cultural heritage as bayong had been the Filipinos' traditional multi-utility bag. It is a simple woven flat basket made of buri, pandan, bamboo or rattan strips that grandma loves bringing to the market, Caberte added with a smile.

"It's now becoming an alternative bag for the environmentally conscious because Project Bayong has revived the use of this traditional utility bag as well as turned it into more fashionable bags with export quality," Caberte stressed.

From February up to press time, DTI-7 has initiated a series of product development trainings that include basic skills in bayong weaving, skills in upgrading and dyeing techniques.

Nearly 700 people have already benefited from the various skills trainings that DTI conducted in 11 municipalities in Central Visayas as of May 2009. With the additional P750Tfunding from the DA, DTI is optimistic that Project bayong will fly in the international market.

To implement this project, DTI-7 partnered with Gateway East, a Manila-based private company that advocates waste reduction and an end to the use of plastic bags.

It is also currently working in coordination with the various local government units and non-government organizations, retailers and exporters in Central Visayas to provide for a more sustainable livelihood for the people and to create more entrepreneurs at the countryside.

With more people seeking environmentally-friendly products, DTI noted an increase in demand for bayong in the domestic and international markets.

Based on DTI's bayong advocacy, it suggests that every family above poverty threshold that would buy one bayong per year at an average price of P100 will generate sales of about P1.3Billion.

Forty (40) percent or P520-Million of which will go to the estimated 16,000 potential bayong workers nationwide making a potential income of P32,000 per year or P2,708 per month per worker, according to the DTI estimates.

The bayong has many uses; it can be a school bag, a shopping bag or a designer bag. This may come as a surprise, but indications show that bayong could spark a whole new export industry in the Philippines and a novel way to protect the environment and reduce carbon emission. (PIA-7) [top]

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