ZAMBOANGA CITY – Project HOPE Agricultural Cooperative (PHAC) member-beneficiaries can now manufacture and process more super hots chili products as the new Common Service Facility (CSF) was formally inaugurated yesterday morning at the Demo Farm in Zamboanga Ecozone and Freeport Authority, Talisayan, Zamboanga City.

Regional Directors Atty. Roy L. Buenafe of Department of Labor and Employment and Martin A. Wee of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) led the inauguration ceremony for the facility.

The setting up of the Common Service Facility started on January 27, 2020 through a grant amounting to PHP 1,224,100.00 which DOLE awarded to SOPHIL Fishing Association, DOLE’s Accredited Co-Partner. Meanwhile, DOST 9 provided the equipment such as food processors, freezer, range hood and stainless steel fixtures as well as training on product packaging and labeling.

Director Buenafe said that the CSF is one of the solutions to the cooperative’s production difficulties as most of the processes are done by hand. With the addition of the CSF and added implements, workers productivity will increase and product lines may expand.

At present, the PHAC currently manufactures Chilicious Products such as the Vinagre Special (Sukang Pinakurat), Chili Garlic Paste, Chili Garlic Sauce and Chili Garlic Crunch – whose main ingredient – chili – are being organically grown at the demo farm.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) 9 and the Office of the City Agriculturist turned over farm inputs consisting of fertilizer bags and seedlings while DOLE 9 also turned-over Kabuhayan Starter Kits for vegetable growing and production worth Php 300K under the DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP).

In his message, Director Buenafe thanked the various partners who offered support, financial resources and technical assistance to the DOLE-assisted cooperative. He mentioned that Project HOPE is DOLE’s holistic intervention to the perennial problem brought about by the Closed Fishing Season thru the provision of a package of assistance as well as services to affected workers of the fishing and canning industry and their families.

Present during the inauguration ceremony were government officials and private sector partners who shared messages of support – Zamboanga ECOZONE Chairperson Raul M. Regondola, DA Agricultural Center Chief Arnulfo Estrada, NWPC Commissioner and Labor Leader Jose J.

Suan, Congressman Cesar Jimenez Jr represented by Eileen Jane Wee, Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar represented by Engr. Al Urao, Western Mindanao State University President Dr. Ma. Carla Ochotorena and SOPHIL President Engr. Johnson Jaydrick Yap.

Project Hope Workers Association President, Mary Jean D. Gonzaga in her message, expressed her thanks to the DOLE and its partners for the relentless support to the cooperative and committed to make the most out of the assistance they received. END

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