Davao upland farmers to grow high-value crops

MARILOG DISTRICT, Davao City (MindaNews/24 February) – Farmers in this mountainous district are now eying high-value crops as alternate sources of income with assistance from the city government in exploring new technologies in upland farming.

With the suitability of the upland areas to various high-value crops, city agriculture chief Leonardo Avila said his office is now working with small farmers and farmer groups to explore upland areas such as the districts of Baguio, Bunawan, Calinan, Marilog, Paquibato and Toril.

Like in Barangay Buda, Avila said his office has considered a 25-hectare site for a red onion production farm while strawberry is grown in another demo farm in Barangay Baganihan.

Farmer Marcelino Cata said he will try to venture into red onion farming after 30 years of growing rice, adding that he will allocate around three hectares of his five-hectare rice farm.

Cata said the inadequate water supply has prompted him to explore red onion farming.

“Sometimes there is enough water, and sometimes there is no water at all. But I might spare at least an hectare for my rice farming just for sustenance but the rest, I will try red onion,” the 62-year old farmer explained.

He added that the only problem for now is the access road to the production farm.

But Avila assured them his office will attend to the request of the farmers to improve the access roads.

The official said the city is blessed with complete areas for practically all high-value crops development.

“We have upland, midland and lowlands with very fertile soil complimented with very good weather, plus consistent rainfall,” he explained, adding that the volcanic soil in the uplands is most suitable to high-value crops.

In Barangay Baganihan, Marilog District, the Baganihan Agri-Ventures Cooperative, owned by local farmers, is growing strawberries in a 1,200-square meter demo farm.

Avila said the technology being employed in this farm will be shared to other farmers in the area should the demo farm succeed.

Januario Bentain, an agriculture technician assigned in Marilog District, said that farmers and technicians from Benguet province came last year to share their technical expertise in growing strawberries to their counterparts.

Although several farmers had tried growing strawberries in Marilog district in the past, they failed due to inadequate technology.

Meanwhile, Avila further stressed that the distinct advantage of the city is its access to the local and international markets owing to good transportation and communications facilities.

“We need to have these demo farms to show to the farmers that this certain technology is feasible in their area and to show to them how much they can benefit from the specified crop,” he told reporters during a farm tour. (Keith Bacongco/MindaNews)