North Cot?s fruit farmers lose millions in sales; erratic weather blamed

The drop in harvest will likely continue until October, depriving thousands of farmers and backyard owners millions of pesos of income.

Magpet agriculture officer Alfredo Jaylon said that in February and March, rains swept through the province and in April, a dry spell was experienced in the area. In May the rains returned, he added.

“The plants were stressed by this erratic weather condition,” Jaylon said.

But he also lay part of the blame on farmers who he said failed to literally pat the plants in the back for a job well-done in the last few years.

“Nagtampo and mga punong prutas because they were not given due recognition,” he told MindaNews.

The province celebrated a fruit fair between July and August in the last few years due to abundant harvests through the “Timpupo” festival, meaning to harvest.

Anthony Bravo, provincial director of the Department of Trade and Industry, said the fruit festival this year has been moved to October 9 to 15 due to delayed harvest of fruits.

“Except durian, which is being harvested in small quantities, the other fruits are still very immature,” Bravo said.

Antonio Balagot, North Cotabato agriculture officer, blamed the delay of the fruit season to bad fertilizing practices.

“After the heavy fruiting last year, farmers failed to follow proper fertilizers’ application,” he claimed.

Balagot and Bravo failed to give the estimated value of the provincial fruit industry.

But in Magpet alone, Jaylon said, they could harvest 10 to 20 tons of marang (milkfruit) a week in one month.

Majority of North Cotabato’s 18 local government units have been growing various kinds of fruits for the commercial markets.

Over the last several years, the province has emerged as a major fruit-producing province in the region.

Last year, the province’s abundant fruit harvests flowed freely during the fruit festival, after the Kidapawan City government allotted half a million pesos for the procurement of fruits.

Tourists were free to eat all they could at an 800-meter long makeshift bamboo table in Kidapawan City but taking home was not allowed.

However, stalls nearby and along the highways sold the products at very cheap prices. Rambutan and durian, for instance, could be bought for as low as five pesos and P20 per kilo, respectively.

During lean seasons, rambutan and lanzones fetch at least P40 per kilo and durian at least P35 per kilo across the region. (MindaNews)