By Julio P. Yap Jr.

The Province of Negros Occidental invites everyone, particularly agriculture enthusiasts and agripreneurs, to the Silver Anniversary of the “festival of all festivals” during the 25th Panaad sa Negros Festival from April 14 to 22, 2018, which will be held at the vast Panaad Park in Mansilingan, Bacolod City.

Hygienically-sealed products like organic red and black rice, organic coffee, and naturally-produced muscovado sugar will be showcased during the event.

“Come and experience the best…Negros Occidental’s 13 cities and 19 municipalities [have to offer] as they showcase their products, arts and culture, tourism destinations, trade and investments, livelihood skills, and even sports, [during the week-long] festivities,” Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo G. Marañon Jr. says.

According to Marañon, Panaad has been adjudged by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP) as the “Best Tourism Event-Provincial Category” in the Philippines.

Different exciting activities have been lined up for this year’s edition of Panaad, including an organic agriculture fair, livestock and dairy fair, trade fair and exhibit, eco-garden show, and the unique bamboo village where various products made out of bamboo will be showcased. Visitors can also attend lectures such as “Livelihood Opportunities through Mushroom Production,” “Swine Diseases Seminar,” “Goat Products and By-Products Utilization,” “Fish Value Adding (Bangus Deboning, Dilis Cooking, Fish Polvoron),” “Market Opportunities for Special Rice,” “Peking Duck Meat Processing,” and the “Farmers and Fisherfolk Congress.” These activities will be handled by the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) under Dr. Renante J. Decena.

Aside from the annual holding of the Panaad Festival, Marañon is pushing for the full mechanization of rice production in the province. He stressed that farm mechanization would require minimum human intervention and make rice production in the province faster and more efficient.

Among the many products of the Negrenses are the native bananas which are tastier and healthier to eat.

Marañon says he is also planning to mechanize rice production in other towns and cities in the province as part of fulfilling his promise to make Negros Occidental rice-sufficient. He said earlier that rice production in Negros Occidental is on the rise. Because of this development, Marañon is encouraging farmers to engage in organic rice farming because there is a huge demand for its yield and is more profitable.

For her part, Negros Occidental Tourism Department head Christine Masinares says that the province has a wide array of beautiful scenic spots, parks, exotic resorts, mountains, caves, and other natural wonders with great potential for private investment in tourism projects and related support services.

She says that Negros Occidental is a showcase of sound environment management practices, with two protected forest areas (Mount Kanlaon and Northern Negros Natural Parks), and two marine reservations (Sagay Marine Reserve and Danjugan Island Marine Sanctuary) that are home to various species of flora, fauna, and marine life.

Batuan is among the favorites of the locals for cooking sinigang-like dishes.

“We will sustain existing programs, both of government and private sector partners, for conservation, rehabilitation and protection of the environment, especially our coastal areas, forest reserves, and major rivers and water bodies,” she said.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s April 2018 issue.