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Turning the wheels toward agriculture

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Two things caught my interest at the 11th Agribusiness Trade Fair at the University of St. La Salle Coliseum Parking Lot in Bacolod City last week: the different food products made of rabbit meat and the microgreens.

I was hesitant at first to taste the lumpia and sisig made of rabbit meat, feeling sorry for the furry mammal that is popular as a household pet, and of course, I had not tried its meat before. I always thought it would taste awful or that there would be an unbearable aftertaste. However, curiosity led me to give it a try. I was surprised that rabbit meat tastes like chicken! Moreover, the sisig was really good!

Gregorio Romeo Montinola, a graduating Entrepreneurship student, chose to sell food products made of rabbit meat as a healthy alternative to chicken and red meat. Montinola shared that his parents’ health condition pushed him to offer a healthier option than the usual meats consumed by people. He added, “Rabbit meat has a higher protein content compared to chicken and is low in fat and cholesterol. It also has many health benefits.”

In addition to the meat bites, similar to chicken nuggets, Montinola’s offerings include lumpia, rabbit meat sisig, among others, all at very affordable prices.

Jeric Olivas, USLS Green Ranchers Club President, Bea Emma Bachinela, Agribusiness Program Head, Rodel Clavite, Farm Manager, Debbie Dianne Salud, faculty member and the rest of the Green Ranchers during the opening of the 11th Agribusiness Trade Fair on February 27.*
Microgreens and succulents. BS Entrepreneurship student James Yamzon tending his class’ microgreens composed of wheat grass, radish, arugula and red amaranth as well as succulents that were all sold at the Agribiz Trade Fair.*

Meanwhile, James Yamzon, a BS Entrepreneurship student, introduced me to microgreens, a type of superfood that, according to Yamzon, provides the body with more necessary nutrients than full-grown crops do. He said, “In ten to fourteen days, you can already harvest these microgreens like radish, arugula, and red amaranth. These are used to garnish soups and salads and can be grown in your urban garden. Most people who visited our booth thought these were ornamental plants because of their aesthetic appeal. However, these are all edible and best when eaten raw,” explained Yamzon.

Everything found in their booth was grown and harvested by Yamzon and his fellow Agribiz students, who are all hands-on on the farm. They also sell succulents.

The trade fair and exhibit, which ran until Thursday, February 29, also gave local farmers like Rubelyn Dalaguit of Don Salvador Benedicto town an opportunity to display and sell their produce. “This yearly Agri Fair helps local farmers like me. We are an association, KISFAI, and through me, my fellow farmers are also able to have their crops sold at the fair. This is a big help,” said Dalaguit, who was busy attending to customers on the fair’s opening day.

Rubelyn Dalaguit, a farmer from Salvador Benedicto in Negros Occidental displays and sells her and those of her fellow farmers’ organic produce at the trade fair annually.*
The food alley featured beverages and food products of student entrepreneurs and the Agribusiness Department’s partners.*
Students petting hamsters and other animals on display and for sale at the fair.*

Jeric Olivas, president of the USLS Green Ranchers Club, emphasized that farmers and agriculture should not be belittled because without them, food security would be impossible to achieve. He said, “We are saddened that our course is not as popular as others because this generation fails to see the potential of agribusiness. However, agriculture is the backbone of the country’s economy. Our farmers provide food and ensure food security. This is why we continue to aggressively promote agriculture and agribusiness to increase awareness and interest among students.”

Br. Joaquin Severino Martinez, FSC, the University President, said that USLS is committed to building the Agribusiness campus to become the model farm across the entire island. He added, “The university is very much involved in the Negros Occidental Nutrition Alliance to help address malnutrition in the entire province. We are the secretariat, Balayan is addressing these concerns. We also sent and sponsored five scholars to Angat, Bulacan, and they’re finishing [in] early March. What they have learned they will try out at our own farms in Granada and Sum-ag. They’re part of a group of about 30 scholars from all over Gawad Kalinga villages in the entire Negros Occidental who are being trained as young organic farmers. So, the wheel is turning for Agriculture,” said Br. Martinez at the opening of the Agribusiness Fair on February 27.

With the strong support agriculture is receiving from the academe, if I may borrow Br. Martinez’s line and tweak it a bit: The wheels must turn toward the direction of agriculture because at the end of the day, how can we live without it?*

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