Tagum City opens Durian Festival

"We are also a durian country," said Faustino Salting, a consultant of the
Tagum City local government, who briefed reporters on the city's growing
durian industry.

Durian growers in Davao del Norte and the city government organized the
festival in 2005, hoping it would be recognized as one of the festivals
promoting abundant fruits produced in Southeastern Mindanao, according to a
statement.

Tagum City Agriculture Officer Arsenio Nidoy said they do not intent to
compete with Davao City in holding the festival.

Organizers said durian is widely grown around the Davao region, including
provinces around
Davao City.

Nidoy also noted that unlike other fruit festivals, the holding of the
city's Durian Festival is an indication of abundant harvest from plantations
in the area.

"There is no shortage of durian fruit supply in Southeastern Mindanao, the
country's leading source of durian," he said.

"That's because we have durian plantations, aside from our banana
plantations, " Salting said.

Organizers said that through the festival, they also hope to educate more
Filipinos about durian. Salting said the average durian consumption of
Filipinos consumer is only 200 grams per year. Thais eat at least 15 and
Malaysians eat 10 kilos every year.

Officials said Davao del Norte, the country's leading producer and exporter
of bananas, also has a wide area planted to durian.

In Tagum City, Nidoy said, the city government has embarked on a "Plant Now
Pay Later" scheme involving farmers in around 200 hectares of durian
plantation.

With a budget of P8 million for the scheme, the city government provided
seedlings, fertilizers, and technical assistance to at least 156 farmers. He
said the support will last for five years, until the trees bear fruit.

Salting said Japan is Davao del Norte's main durian market but gave no data
about shipment size. He said
Japan has been their market since the 1980s.

Nidoy said the planting scheme further expanded the plantation area and
could cause a glut in the production of durian.

The festival, he said, could help them in their plan to expand their market
for the fruit and its by-products.

The Tagum City Tourism Council scheduled activities from September 10-17
based on a festival brochure.

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