Western Visayas is a major contributor to the country’s agricultural production. With the economic importance of agriculture, there is an urgent need to increase farm productivity, diversify from traditional products to high-value commodities as well as aggressively move towards value-adding activities like food processing. Post-harvest losses is one of the major factors that affect farm productivity and subsequent decrease of farm income. This problem has even become more critical during the COVID-19 pandemic because of the need to ensure food resiliency in the country as well as support the livelihood of farmers and fisherfolks.

Post-harvest losses can be addressed through various means and one of them is proper and appropriate packaging of agri-fishery products. Because of this, DOST VI and DA VI have recently forged a partnership to improve the packaging of various products and commodities being produced by farmers, fisherfolks and agribusiness enterprises in the region. DA VI provided funding support last July to DOST VI amounting to Php 7.5M in order to provide a wide range of packaging related assistance to various stakeholders.

DOST VI has set three components to address various gaps in the product packaging of agri-fishery enterprises in Western Visayas: packaging and label design assistance for at least 100 farmers, fisherfolks and agribusiness enterprises; development of technical manual for agri-fishery product packaging and capacity building not only of agribusiness enterprises but even of DA and LGU personnel who are assisting farmers and fisherfolks. The project will likewise be involved the Packaging Engineering Department of the Central Philippine University (CPU) in Iloilo City. (SSalazar/DOST VI KMU)