Though it was a seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble and mas­sive un­der­tak­ing, there’s some­body who ef­fected change and cre­ated a rip­ple ef­fect big enough to in­volve the whole in­dus­try. It’s no celebrity, critic, or chef. Not a soli­tary in­di­vid­ual even, but a whole team.

The Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture ( DA), led by Un­der­sec­re­tary Berna Ro­mulo- Puyat, has been re­spon­si­ble for in­ject­ing new blood into the whole F& B in­dus­try and giv­ing it re­vi­tal­ized en­ergy as a re­sult of ac­tively cham­pi­oning lo­cal pro­duce and pro­duc­ers, even in­flu­enc­ing chefs and restau­ra­teurs to do the same. “One of the pri­or­i­ties of the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion is the ag­gres­sive mar­ket­ing of high- value commodities locally and in­ter­na­tion­ally,” says Ro­mulo- Puyat. “We were also di­rected to ex­plore pos­si­ble mar­kets for our agri­cul­ture and fishery prod­ucts. Given the suc­cess of our ac­tiv­i­ties with the chefs, the DA re­al­ized that they are in­deed a huge mar­ket for our farm­ers and fish­er­folks. The grow­ing culi­nary scene in the coun­try has led us to di­rectly in­tro­duce chefs to pro­duc­ers and ed­u­cate them on the dif­fer­ent stages of food pro­duc­tion. I am happy to note that these im­mer­sion ac­tiv­i­ties have linked sev­eral chefs with farm­ers/ fish­er­men, and now the chefs have been di­rectly sourc­ing in­gre­di­ents from them as well as ed­u­cat­ing the pub­lic about the abun­dance of agri- fishery prod­ucts in the coun­try.”

This has helped in­crease the de­mand for tra­di­tional prod­ucts like ad­lai, etag, sampinit, heirloom rice, and sour­ing agents, as chefs have been show­cas­ing them in their menus and rais­ing aware­ness on their uses, health ben­e­fits, and ways to source them.

The im­pact of the DA goes be­yond that, par­tic­i­pat­ing in food events like Madrid Fu­sion Manila and Kain Na Hong Kong to pro­mote our coun­try’s trea­sures, as well as launch­ing the TienDa Farm­ers and Fish­er­man’s Out­let, which makes fresh pro­duce more af­ford­able and ac­ces­si­ble to con­sumers. Such is the ex­tent of their clout, and as long as their sup­port and no­ble ef­forts con­tinue, the in­dus­try will be in good hands.

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