La Trinidad launches OTOP quality seal
by SC Aro
La Trinidad, Benguet (22 November) -- In advancing the strawberry industry, the One-Town-One Product (OTOP) of this town, it now has developed a seal to stamp the quality of its produce which was launched during the opening of the 108th founding anniversary of Benguet thru Adivay 2008.
After producing the largest strawberry shortcake, a Guinness World Record holder in 2004, the town finally came up with its OTOP seal through painstaking efforts of various groups. The quality seal will initially be used on strawberry jam and wine products.
Mayor Artemio Galwan said the OTOP which is the priority project of the government has empowered the local government units to take the lead in identifying, developing and promoting a specific product or service having competitive advantage to promote entrepreneurship and create jobs in every town.
Galwan said an inter-agency memorandum of understanding was forged in support to the OTOP program adding that this was also endorsed by the League of Municipalities of the Province.
Municipal Agriculturist Fely Ticbaen said the conceptualization of the OTOP seal was a challenge to protect the strawberry industry as there has been a massive production of processed strawberries which are being marketed and there is no way of determining their quality.
Ticbaen related that long before the conceptualization of the seal, an inter-agency project with the Department of Labor in support to entrepreneurs engaged in strawberry processing was implemented in 2005. But despite the technology downloaded to the entrepreneurs who were trained, they still could not market their produce.
Ticbaen said it was then that they saw the need to come up with a seal as a mark in identifying the quality of processed strawberry products that passed through a thorough evaluation and have complied with standards set.
The OTOP Council led by the Department of Trade and Industry and the technical working group were created through Administrative Order 21 series 2008.
Training of the TWG was conducted in the crafting of the seal which was supported by Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation, Inc., a non-government organization, funding the capability training and workshop. Ticbaen said JVOFI will initially produce the seal.
Other members of the Council include the following: private organizations and non-government organizations such as the JVOFI, Strawberry Processors Association, Tourism Office, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Health, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Benguet State University, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agriculture - CARFU, Benguet Chamber of Commerce, Muncipal Local Government Operations Office and the SB on trade and industry, tourism and agriculture.
Ticbaen said to date, there are no processors yet who could avail of the seal. They are still encouraged to enroll and must have passed the necessary requirements through a merit system formulated by the OTOP Council before they are accredited and eventually avail of the seal.
The Council came up with standards of rating strawberry products, producer and production area. The ratings will serve as the bases of accreditation and seal to be released.
The Council endorsed the OTOP seal with corresponding standards to ensure quality of OTOP products marketed and promoted within and outside the municipality approved and adopted by the SB through resolution number 253-2008 dated November 11, 2008.
Galwan said there are three types of rating the quality of the produce: the one berry seal stands for 'with satisfactory rating'; the two-berry seal with 'very satisfactory rating'; and the three-berry seal with an 'excellent rating'.
He is calling all local and foreign consumers to patronize the town's products with OTOP seal ensuring that these are all quality products regardless of their ratings. (PIA-Benguet) [top]