Kenji Terada, Japanese Embassy 1st Secretary and Agricultural Attaché, said yesterday he hopes the P3 million Lemongrass Essential Oil Plant will provide more stable income for the farmers of Barangay Mambugsay in Cauayan town.
At the turnover of the facility, Terada thanked the Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation Inc. for bringing the assistance of the people of Japan to support the education and health care of 20 farming families of the Mambugsay Essential Oil Producers Association.
“I sincerely hope that this project will be another testimony of the long standing friendship and cooperation between the Philippines and Japan towards a bright future,” he added.
The construction of the distillery, awarded under the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects, was finished in June 2014 but had not yet been turned over by the Japanese Embassy. Along with the plant were a brand new truck, windmill for power generation and solar water heater.
The Eco-friendly Plant for Lemongrass Oil Distillation in Negros Occidental, is distinct because it is operated in an area where nobody would usually build a processing plant, Auke Idzenga, AIDFI co-founder and Management Committee Head, said.
He said the project proved that farming in an eroded, uphill far-flung area is feasible.
“Our farmers here were empowered by the project. They feel pride that, through their hard work in farming, the infusion of appropriate technology and assistance in marketing, they can produce export quality essential oil,” he added.
Assistant Secretary for the Visayas Hansel Didulo, of the Department of Agriculture, said they are currently engaging in shift in mindsets to assure the beneficiaries that the DA will aid them in case they need assistance from it.
He also said that providing more income opportunities to farmers, making food more affordable and stopping corruption are among the priorities set by President Rodrigo Duterte and Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.*KBC
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