A streamer announcing tuba-tuba as a key crop for this agricultural city is displayed at a major intersection in the down town area to encourage farmers to adopt the crop which is being used as a rich source of bio-diesel.
Mayor Fernando Miguel said he directed agriculture officials in the city to conduct an inventory of all idle agricultural lands suited for tuba-tuba propagation.
"Let us make use of the idle agricultural lands and transform these to become productive land. I believe that one of the secrets of development is agriculture. Anyone who wishes to cultivate tuba-tuba may visit my office," he said.
Koronadal is the regional seat of government of Region 12, which also covers the cities of General Santos, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato and the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani.
Tuba-tuba is already grown in parts of Sarangani and in General Santos City due to its cash potentials. An estimated 300 hectares of land have been planted to the crop in General Santos City.
According to the website, http://hareda.gov.in/bioenergy.htm of India, Jatropha curcas “is a multi-purpose tree of significant economic importance.”
“The large-scale cultivation of Jatropha on wastelands with poor soils and low rainfall and drought-prone rural area could provide a regular employment to poor people, and its processing as oil fuel, soap, candle etc. could improve their living conditions by providing additional income,” it said.
“Use of bio-diesel at the village level for operating oil engines for pumping water, operating small machinery and generating electricity is another good opportunity which will be a boon for the farmers,” the website added.
But North Cotabato Gov. Emmanuel Piñol expressed reservations on promoting tuba-tuba as a cash crop.
“Farmers should be wary of adopting crops on the trend. Unless there is a sure market sealed through a marketing agreement, that’s the only time farmers should grow the plant,” he said.
Piñol, who urged farmers in the region to plant oil palm and rubber, recalled past experiences in the region where farmers were caught by the ramie and g’melina craze, only to end up with huge losses.
“That’s because there was no market for the products,” he said.
Miguel said priority areas for tuba-tuba growing in the city will be villages with higher elevations.
Citing studies, the mayor said that the plant is easy to propagate in sandy and saline soils.
Tuba-tuba, he said, can be intercropped with coffee and other fruit bearing plants.
A couple of months ago, even President Gloria Arroyo strongly pushed the planting of tuba-tuba across the country to promote the use of biodiesel.
D1 Oils, the United Kingdom-based global biodiesel producer, has been encouraging farmers in the region to grow tuba-tuba.
Presently, the price per kilo of jatropha fruits reportedly fetches P10.
A hectare of jatropha could yield 250 kilos of fruits in the first year;1,000 kilos in the second year; 3,000 kilos in the fourth year; and 6,000 kilos in the sixth year onwards.
Five tons of jatropha oil seeds can produce two tons of bio-diesel. (MindaNews)