Strawberries thrive on highland chill

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- People might be complaining about the cold, but for strawberry growers, it is a welcome chill.

Norman Mangawe, External Affairs officer of the Benguet State University Agri- Based Technology Business Incubators/Innovation Center (the BSU – ATIBI – IC), said cold weather is ideal for the berries.

"Ideal for strawberries ang ganitong lamig," she said.

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Today, the area is thriving with tourists welcoming the peak season for picking and touring. An average of 1,000 visitors is welcomed each weekend, while on weekdays there is an average of 500 guests arriving.

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) recorded the coldest temperature so far was at 9.6 degrees Celsius on January 12 as compared to 9.8 degrees Celsius a year ago. The city’s lowest temperature was recorded at 6.3 degrees on January 18, 1961.

The Pagasa said high pressure brought about by the northeast monsoon, which blows cold air from mainland China and higher latitude countries, will continue until February.

Strawberries prices now range from P150 for small to medium sizes while large and extra large berries cost P180 per kilo.

Mangawe said there is an 80 percent increase in production during these peak months with an average of 1,000 kilos produced a week.

The BSU–ATIBI–IC group hold 3.7 hectares in the vast 38 hectare strawberry field at kilometer 6 owned by the state university which was called a swamp in the olden days specifically because it gets flooded during the rainy months and literally covering the fields with water.

It is here, however, where the biggest yield in berries is seen, reason why farmers fight tooth and nail to have a spot in the coveted fields.

There are over 500 farmers in the fields divided into two associations.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 22, 2014.

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