Issue of November 24, 2019
Mt. Province
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Benguet entreps told to help in farm-to-table promotion
by Ofelia C. Empian

A homegrown restaurant chain owner has encouraged various entrepreneurs in Benguet to be proactive in creating products promoting farm-to-table consumption.

Restaurateur Elmer Macalingay, owner of the chain of restaurants Health Restoreant, lauded entrepreneurs in the 13 towns of Benguet for coming up with products out from local fresh produce. But he said there is a problem when it comes to its sustainability.

Macalingay cited as an example the camote flour he bought from one of the agri-tourism booths during the previous Adivay Festival where he was able to perfect a product out of it. However, the supply of the camote flour was not enough to keep up with his orders in his restaurants. 

“I was able to make Elmer’s pancake out of the camote flour I bought from the agri-booth but when I went back, it is no longer available and the maker stopped creating it,” he said during the opening of the agri-tourism booths as part of the Adivay Festival 2019.

With this, he had to create the same pancake but now using cornmeal as an alternative.

Macalingay, who handles four branches of Health Restoreants located in Baguio and La Trinidad, also said that due to  the demand in their restaurants where they constantly needed fresh produce for their kitchen, they would often end up getting their resources from outside Benguet.

“Locally we have interesting products but the question is are they locally available?” he said.

Such as the case with their famed brown rice, which comes from Ilocos Sur, where they get 140 sacks every 20 days.  

“We can help you market your products. I am continuously looking for partners in various municipalities in the province where we could source out our resources,” he said. 

Other fresh produce that they need are carrots for their carrot juices, local coffee, soya beans, among others.

He encouraged farmers and entrepreneurs to plan their steps to sustain their businesses. Entrepreneurs should also have a vision that would guide them in all their decisions.

“For us, our advocacy is for healthier food options, that is our mission. You should have written goals as your guide,”

He said adding their ultimate dream is to become a certified organic restaurant in the future.

Macalingay, who is an avid supporter of local products, said he is open for partnership with local entrepreneurs to display their locally made products in his restaurants as a way of promoting local products as well as fresh produce.

He said this is a way of promoting farm-to-table industries as well, which is the strength of the province and the Cordillera region as a whole but still need to be tapped and enhanced further.

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