Agri-fish fair showcases bounty of agriculture products in South Leyte
By Bong Pedalino
Southern Leyte (June 30) -- At the forested hill on the west side of the capitol sunken garden here, a beehive of activity is happening with the opening yesterday of the Agri-Fish Fair 2009, an annual activity timed as one of the attractions every anniversary celebration of this province, this year on July 1 is its 49th.
The various municipalities and the city put up well arranged booths filled to capacity with whatever these local government units can offer as their proud agricultural produce in their area, including packaged processed foods, by-products of anything that came from a farmer's steadfast steward of the cultivated land.
Agriculture-related offices and farming-based non-government organizations displayed the best of their wares, and private entrepreneurs in the locality that catered to garden or plant lovers were in full force, too.
In the opening program, Gov. Damian Mercado reiterated his strong support to the agricultural sector, be it from a personal -- he is a practicing farmer himself -- or governance viewpoint.
He said that with the various products now on display and actually for sale, this indicated that all these products exist in the province, yet having said this, he also stressed that such abundance should not be seen during fairs only, but maintained and sustained by the farmers "as a way to fight the crisis" facing everyone nowadays.
Rep. Roger Mercado, in his inspirational talk, virtually said as much, frankly stating that the products were "for exhibit, not for commercial bulk, for trading, wherein scouting investors can order by tons."
The solon, a known environment and farming crusader, shared his observation and experience in a recent trip to Mindanao, where many immigrant farmers, not natives from Mindanao, made good fortune through farming, among them settlers from Maasin.
"We should think like we are living in Mindanao," Cong. Mercado emphasized to give significance to the pressure and pleasure of tilling the soil not our own, and enjoying the fruits of one's painstaking labor.
Among the invited guests of the occasion were Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Executive Director Leo Caneda and Visayas State University (VSU) President Dr. Jose Bacusmo, who was married to a Liloan lass.
Caneda praised the accomplishments the province blazed in the field of agriculture, adding that in other aspects Southern Leyte also got high marks, having the lowest regional malnutrition rate at 9% and the lowest poverty incidence at 29%, also at the regional level.
For his part, VSU President Bacusmo extolled the virtues of farming, saying that aside from the potential of getting rich with dogged perseverance, one is satisfied and fulfilled upon seeing how the plants grow and bear fruits through his or her care.
The Agri-Fish Fair will last for three days until July 1 in the afternoon, with a culmination program in which winners for best booths, best landscaping, the "pincaka" contest, and best flower contest will be announced. (PIA-Southern Leyte) [top]