KIDAPWAN CITY (MindaNews / 20 Aug) – It’s bringing back the glory days as fruits have once again bloomed in abundance in this city. Almost in every corner and along both sides of streets, fruits are all over.
Thus, after almost a decade of absence, Timpupo Fruit Festival, which was last staged in this city in 2006, is back, and opened on Wednesday (19 August). “Timpupo” is the lumad and Visayan term for “to harvest fruit.”
“The fruits could be seen almost everywhere, from houses to compounds to farmlands. Fruit trees bearing flowers, some already starting to ripe, and you find them colorful,” said fruit retailer Devine Ballano, adding that fruits are “affordable and sweet.”
This also means more income to the likes of Devine, who is into contracting fruit farms, selling produce to other regions and as far away as Manila.
But unlike more than a decade ago, in the early 2000s where “abundance was the name of the game,” Devina said the fruit industry here is just starting to recover now.
The fruit festival was first celebrated in 2001, but it was first called Timpupo Fruit Festival only in 2005 when the city council passed a resolution adopting the ethnic word. It was, however, last staged in 2006 when the local fruit industry suffered a setback with diseases and erratic weather conditions. In that year, in fact, the festival was moved to October, because harvest was still scarce in August.
Governor Emmylou “Lala” Mendoza said the influx of huge banana plantations during those days was seen as big factor in the decline of the fruit harvest. Agriculture experts reportedly noted several diseases among fruit trees, while many trees eventually died.
“Nagtampo ang mga fruit trees sa influx ng banana plantations,” Mendoza said during the press conference.
Banana plantations rely heavily on chemicals, some of them toxic, to maintain the growth and quality of their produce while most fruit trees are endemic species. At the most, growers use only fertilizers to bolster the harvest.
“What we are doing now after we started to stabilize the harvest, we worked intensively with our agriculture department so farmers can go into diversified and balanced farming where fruit trees are replanted side by side with other crops,” the governor added.
With the situation now back to normal, the city again celebrates the fruit festival, dubbing this year’s celebration as “Kasadya sa Timpupo” (the feast of harvest time). The four-day even started Wednesday with a grand parade that showcased floats bearing fruits.
Kidapawan and nearby towns in North Cotabato, like Makilala and Magpet located at the foot of Mt. Apo, are home of durian, lanzones, mangosteen, rambutan and banana plantations. The area is suitable for growing fruits because of its cold weather and rich volcanic soil.
Kidapawan Mayor Joseph Evangelista said the city government intends to institutionalize the fruit festival and make it bigger to make it known not only in the region but in the whole country and abroad as well.
The city has, in fact, allied with neighboring Magpet and Makilala municipalities and signed a memorandum of understanding for a collaborative effort for an expanded festival next year.
At present one big local mangosteen producer in the city owned by the Villarico family harvests half a ton starting today and expects to harvest one ton a day next month from a 30-hectare plantation.
These mangosteen fruits are being processed into food supplement capsules, tea, jam and others.
This is now the thrust of the province – converting surplus harvests into processed foods aimed at penetrating the national and global markets.
“The problem is, fruits coming from our places are being claimed by other regions. So there is more to be done in marketing and processing to help our local farmers and job seekers,” Evangelista said.
At present, mangosteen are being sold at P25-30 a kilo; rambutan, P20-30; durian, P25-35; lanzones, P40-50; and marang, P10-30 apiece.
Devina said prizes are expected to even go lower in the next weeks as more fruits ripen.
The Timpupo Fruit Festival this year includes a tribal day, which highlights the culture and tradition of the Manobos of North Cotabato; Search for Binibining Kalikasan; Musikahan sa Timpupo with the Dumaki band; regional banana investment and marketing forum; business matching; color run and night run; thematic costume parade; and live jamming at the Timpupo.