Strawberries so Fresh
Originally uploaded by islandcode.
WITH the promising income it gives to farmers, the town of La Trinidad is not the only one cultivating strawberries nowadays. Dr. Silverstre Kudan of the Benguet State University (BSU) College of Agriculture said strawberry growing is now expanding to other municipalities in the province.
Kudan, who was one of the speakers of the strawberry industry forum as part of the ongoing Strawberry Festival, said more Benguet farmers are now being encouraged to grow the fruit. Farmers in the towns of Tuba, Atok, Tublay, Bakun and Kibungan are now cultivating strawberry, he added.
Strawberry growing was first introduced in Benguet in the 1970s by a Japanese farmer. Tuba was the first town where strawberries were initially grown. This later expanded to La Trinidad, which is now the major cultivation area for the fruit.
The first varieties grown here were penicillin, missionary and fukuba, said Kudan. Lately, the most popular variety was the Sweet Charlie, which La Trinidad imports from Argentina.
In 2006, the La Trinidad Municipal Government also imported new varieties from California — the camarosa and festival. These varieties are now being grown by farmers on an experimental basis.
As per the Municipal Agriculturist Office (MAO), areas planted to strawberry in La Trinidad alone cover 74 hectares. Around 600 households are depending on strawberry growing as sources of livelihood.
Meanwhile, the delivery of agricultural commodities from Kapangan and the town’s famous silk would soon reach various markets with lesser travel time.
This as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo vowed the release of P60 million from various government agencies for the improvement of Acop-Kapangan Road.
The President made the announcement on Monday in Kapangan where she inaugurated the more than P18.5 million worth of Municipal Hall.
A signage showing the poor state of the road and the experience of traveling along the rugged road moved President Arroyo to commit the amount for the completion of the road improvement project.
She traveled for more than one hour by land to Kapangan to inaugurate the town’s new three-floor municipal building that was completed last month after attending the graduation rites of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in Baguio.
“I passed by a (diesel) filling station which is named ‘rugged road’ and it should not (retain that name) forever, that’s why I asked a budget for the farm-to-market road from the Department of Agriculture (DA) to speed up the road project,” she told Kapangan residents.
Aside from the P20-million fund from the DA, Arroyo said another P20 million from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and P20 million from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) would be released for Acop-Kapangan Road.
She further asked the Benguet Provincial Government to allot a counterpart of P10 million for the implementation of the project.
“I talked with (DPWH) Secretary Manuel Bonoan over the phone and asked him to allot P20 million for this project and (DAR) Secretary Nasser Pangandaman to provide P20 million,” the President said.
Pangandaman and DA Secretary Arthur Yap were with Arroyo.
From Kapangan, Arroyo proceeded to La Trinidad and also inaugurated the vegetable processing and packaging plant at the Trading Post.
The facility, worth P9 million, is one of the priority projects of the North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle headed by Yap. It would serve as a facility for washing, cutting, peeling, trimming and packing of vegetables and fruits.
The DA provided P8 million for the project with a counterpart of P1 million from the La Trinidad Municipal Government.
The processing plant was constructed in coordination with Dole Asia Philippines and Benguet vegetable growers.