No frost damage, Agri department says-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
AGRICULTURE officials clarified there have been no reports reaching them of frost-affected farms in Cordillera region particularly in the towns of Atok and Buguias in Benguet.
Robert Domoguen, Department of Agriculture (DA) regional agriculture and fisheries information division chief, said there are no frost affected vegetables in Atok, Benguet, where they are closely coordinating with municipal agriculture officials.
Domoguen said the prevailing strong winds prevent the formation of frost in plants such as cabbages, as the air thaws and prevents ice from causing injury to leaves of plants.
“If it is windy, it prevents moisture from turning into frost on the leaves of vegetables,” he said.
Farmers in recent years have also learned to cope with the yearly threats of frost by adjusting their planting and harvesting schedules so as not to be affected by the cold weather.
In past years, DA officials also reiterated the cool weather has made semi-temperate vegetables sturdier and crispier compared to those grown during the summer months.
Farmers such as in Paoay village in Atok also claim it is no longer an odd phenomenon to experience frost in their area, especially in cabbage and potato farms situated in the valley during windless days.
But in an earlier interview, Fred Rufino, the town’s agriculturist, stressed they adapt and use the power sprayers given to the municipality to thaw frost that has formed in the leaves.
Frost that stays on for too long on the leaves of plants such as cabbage and potatoes has been associated to stunted growth on vegetables while leaves of cabbages are often damaged by the ice-cold frost.
Governor Nestor Fongwan backed the DA, saying news reports pertaining to frost incidence are sending wrong signals to the general public.
Fongwan said the incidence of frost happen to areas which do not have any windbreakers that combat the cold during these months. “But these are isolated cases; there is not even half of one percent which is affected.”
Fongwan said highland farmers now know how to combat frost either with early morning showering for crops or through wind. “Our farmers know what to do.”
The governor said famers now have to think about crop programming so as not to have a surplus of crops during these months.
Fongwan said joining the Benguet Farmers Marketing Cooperative (BFMC) will be a more intelligent decision for farmers so the organization will ensure crops and where to market them.
The BFMC also takes care of programming for farmers ensuring there will be no oversupply.
Meanwhile, Tourism officials in past years welcomed the arrival of frost, especially in Benguet with DOT regional director Purificacion Molintas saying these elevated areas have the potential of introducing frost tourism.
The chilly weather in the region is not experienced in this tropical country, which makes Baguio City a common draw for tourists wanting to escape the heat in the country’s capital Manila and in other lowland provinces. (With Maria Elena Catajan)
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 22, 2013.