Department of Agriculture to invest P300 million in Bukidnon for vegetable production
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 10 is investing P300 million into a 5-year vegetable production development program in the Impasug-ong-Talakag-Sumilao-Lantapan (IMTASULA) towns in Bukidnon.
The investment aims to bring food supplies to the National Capital Region and stabilize food prices.
The towns sit on the foot of the Mount Kitanglad and Mount Kalatungan mountain ranges, providing a pocket climate ideal for production of high value crops.
On September 14, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol visited Barangay Miarayon, Talakag, to source vegetables for the NCR and Northern Luzon region to stabilize skyrocketing vegetable prices.
Barangay Miarayon responded with shipping close to 20 tons of fresh vegetables. Seven tons were transported by air and the rest were shipped in refrigerated containers. The vegetables were sold to the Bureau of Plant Industry complex in Malate, Manila.
Piñol turned over to Miarayon Highland Farmers Association P20 million capital for them to start shipping their produce to NCR.
DA regional Director Carlene Collado said that the amount was for the farmers’ initial capital for them to start shipping directly to Luzon, bypassing the traditional middlemen that trade vegetables.
A thousand plastic crates were provided to the farmers so that vegetables could be transported properly instead of in the usual sacks which, during transport, exposes the vegetables to handling hazards.
Collado said that the development plan for IMTASULA area is now part of the food security long-term plan.
“We are targeting 50 thousand hectares of land to be developed into vegetable production,”Collado said.
Collado added that currently, in the area of Talakag and Lantapan, there are about 10 thousand hectares of land being used to produce vegetables.
Collado added that other Bukidnon towns are also being eyed, such as Manolo Fortich, which shares borders with Sumilao and Impasug-ong. Manolo Fortich also sits at the foot of Mount Kitanglad.
Data from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in Northern Mindanao showed it produced 16,012.56 metric tons of vegetables – valued at P209 million in the second quarter of 2018.
The transportation of vegetables from Lantapan and Talakag is now made much easier with the completion of a 4 lane national highway, part of the Mindanao Logistics Infrastructure Network created by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Collado added that the planned 50 thousand hectares will be divided into a multi-year projects coupled with people-centred development.
“We want to develop our farmers into agripreneurs were they can dictate and negotiate for the prices of their goods,” Collado said.
The DA will also study the challenges of bringing products in an logistically and geographically-challenged environment.
Cagayan de Oro alone is approximantely 1,400 kilometers away from NCR while farmers from the Cordilleras are just less than 400 kilometers away.
Logistics and geographical distance will surely play a factor in the overhead cost of bringing foods to Luzon.
According to Collado, last week’s Miarayon farmers cost them 100 thousand pesos to shipped 13 tons of foods to Manila.
Collado said that the farm gate price in Miarayon for Carrots is just 12.00/kg which was sold in manila for over 100 pesos.
But if the aim of the agriculture department is bring down food prices in Manila more affordable, the DA needs to find a balance in assuring that farmers in IMTASULA area will get a competitive price at a much lower transportation cost.
The DA in Region 10 will meet in October to finalized the plans for this 300 million development project where they will have an birds eye view on how many farmers will trade their produce in Luzon and how to come up with an economically sound and sustainably viable growth for farmers and consumers. – Rappler.com