THE local government of Negros Occidental boasted that organic farming and tourism are two growing industries in their province.
During the opening of the 31st Negros Trade Fair at the Glorietta Activity Center in Makati City, Negros Occidental Vice Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said the province now has a booming economy.
“I think we can stand on our own. We can be competitive in certain products. Aside from sugar, we have organic farming, from vegetables to hog raising. This will be our next strength that Negros can offer here in our country,” Lacson said.
He added: “Now sugar is still the biggest industry. We also have our call centers now; that is one industry that is also picking up in Negros Occidental. We are also focusing in tourism, because Negros is not just about sugar. There are so many things going around in Negros.”
Meanwhile, Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon T. Teo said the region is slowly recognizing its potential as a tourist destination, especially as a dive spot. According to Teo, they are also eyeing the region as a meetings, incentives, conferences and events destination to decongest Manila.
In charge of the annual trade fair, Association of Negros Producers President Christina Borromeo-Gaston said that, along with the government support for organic farming, the association is also assisting farmers with processing, food safety standards and in expanding their markets.
“The provincial government is really pushing organic agriculture. We have a program that traces the product from seed to the fork. We have all these programs in the association. We want the island to be sustainable. People in Negros, they value their environment very much. It is not only about the health of the people but an advocacy of Negros for the people all over. There is an international market because they participate in international trade shows,” Gaston said.
The trade event featured 110 booths, ranging from Negros delicacies and cuisines, clothing, linen, handicrafts, furniture, resorts and other tourists desitnations.
Meanwhile, aquaculture and biodiversity conservation in Negros is also seeing positive feedbacks from conservation officials.
Lisa Paguntalan, executive director of Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc., said the region’s wetlands has been declared a Ramsar site for its rich resource of marine fishery products, well-kept ecosystem and a pool of over 80 species of migratory birds passing by.
The Ramsar convention is an international treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources, and a recognizing body of areas of international biological and economical importance.
Image credits: Stephanie Tumampos