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 an individual even but a whole team.
The Department of Agriculture (DA), led by Undersecretary Berna Romulo-Puyat (now Department of Tourism Secretary), 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 fisherfolk. 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/fisherfolk, 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.
Originally published in F&B Report Vol. 14 No. 6