AS FAR as one can remember, the Benguet State University (BSU) strawberry fields stood as a wide swathe of fertile land on the valley floor of La Trinidad, Benguet. Farmers labored daily on their knees or hunched over to reach the plants on plots raised to about half a foot, while deftly but unnaturally positioning themselves on the narrow space between plots.
This picture started to change a bit in late 2014 when a few farmers implemented some innovative ideas as part of their training under the Agribased Technology Business Incubator/Innovation Center (BSU ATBI/IC). Understanding the critical contribution of increasing land productivity to a positive effect on their income, more farmers were encouraged to invest their time, money and effort into changing the way they farmed.
It was rough sailing at first and some losses were even incurred. There were more lessons that needed to be learned. Thus, they participated in seminars, workshops, discussions, and field trips. They consulted technical experts about soil health management, pest and disease prevention and control, good agricultural practices, and many others to enhance their technical knowhow. This was coupled with training on entrepreneurship, and even agritourism.
As an increasing number among the current 51 BSU ATBI/IC farmers practiced growing crops on elevated plots, strawberry towers, and even re-usable containers, the landscape of the BSU Strawberry Farms is slowly but surely changing.
Now farmers and tourists alike can reach the plants while standing up every once in a while.