GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/7 Nov) – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is working for the expansion of the Roll On, Roll Off (RoRo) transport system in the coastal municipality of Glan in Sarangani province in a bid to facilitate the shipment of quality vegetable products from various parts of Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao.
Reynaldo Legaste, South Cotabato agriculture officer, said the DA central office pushed for such move as part of its ongoing efforts to develop several parts of Region 12 and the neighboring areas as the country’s next “vegetable basket.”
“With a RoRo facility in place, we can easily ship out our vegetable products from the region to other domestic markets and at a cheaper price,” he said.
Legaste said the establishment of the RoRo facilities and route in Glan will mainly link up local producers and shippers of fresh and processed vegetables to major markets in the country.
“It will improve our market opportunities and our capacity in terms of vegetable production,” he said. The official said it will benefit thousands of vegetable farmers in South Cotabato province and the neighboring areas in the region who are currently facing problems with the high costs of shipping agricultural through the existing routes run by commercial vessels.
The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12 or the Soccsksargen Region had been also pushing for the opening of a RoRo route in the region.
Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Legaste said the existing RoRo routes only cover portions of northern, western and eastern Mindanao through the “western and central shipping highways.”
The western highway starts in Dapitan City in Zamboanga del Norte and goes off to Dumaguete City, Bacolod City, Iloilo, Caticlan and Roxas City in the Visayas; and, Mindoro and Batangas in Luzon. The central highway covers Cagayan de Oro City and Balingoan, Misamis Oriental and Camiguin in Mindanao; Bohol and Cebu in Visayas; and, Masbate and Camarines Sur in Luzon.
“Our nearest markets are Cagayan de Oro City and Davao City but the volume that we move is quite limited considering distance of these areas,” Legaste said.
South Cotabato is presently considered as among the top producers of high-quality vegetables in the southern and central Mindanao area.
Mall chain Robinsons and several other supermarkets in the area retail vegetables produced in Barangay Miasong in Tupi, South Cotabato.
Aside from Tupi town, which has an estimated 300 hectares of established high altitude vegetable production area, the provincial government of South Cotabato has been also developing another 300 hectares of vegetable area in the upland village of Ned in Lake Sebu town.
The province produces high-value vegetables such as asparagus, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, white potato, radish, carrots, among others.
It is also a top producer of “pinakbet-type” vegetables such as eggplant, squash, okra, amplaya and string beans. Legaste said at least 30 percent of vegetables currently in South Cotabato are consumed while the rest goes to various markets in the region and the neighboring areas. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)