WITH Mindanao being a major food basket in the country, it has long been supplying a variety of agricultural products all over the country and even globally. With the growing demand for food, more are looking at Mindanao to supply the demands of their people.
Earlier this year, Zhou Suli, charge d’affaires of the Embassy of Singapore in the Philippines, said Singapore is looking at Mindanao as a source for its agriculture imports.
“Because we import 90 percent of our food, we need to ensure adequate food security. One of the key strategies that we employed is to diversify our food sources,” Suli said in an interview with SunStar Davao on February this year.
She added that Singapore imports a small number of food products from the Philippines like bananas, pineapples, papayas, and mangoes. They are keen to import more.
In the domestic market, Liberty Commercial Center (LCC), a retailer based in Albay, Bicol, has started to source its agricultural products from Davao Region in July for its supermarkets.
“I believe that Davao will provide a good quality product as it is one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of banana, papaya, mangosteen, and durian,” LCC chief operations officer Romeo Tan said.
While interest is high for Mindanao agricultural products, local producers and farmers continue to struggle to meet the demands of the market.
For example, the first agricultural shipment for LCC was below the targeted volume of nine to 12 tons. The first shipment on July 16, 2019, was only 7.4 tons, which includes fruits such as bananas and mangoes. Suppliers of LCC were unable to bring the fruits on time. They also had an issue on the farm gate price of fruits.
Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) Agribusiness Committee chairman Val Turtur also said Mindanao farmers also do not have the volume to meet the needs of foreign traders.
“Based on our meetings with China, Korea, and Singapore, fruits, and vegetables ang interest nila. Unfortunately, we do not have the volume that is why all producers in Mindanao are invited to join the expo (Davao Agri Trade Expo 2019) para malaman natin ang volume,” Turtur, who is also the president of the Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao (Cidami), said.
According to the Mindanao Jobs Report, productivity remains low for agriculture in Mindanao. In the report, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that agricultural growth in Mindanao between 2010 and 2013 was only at around one percent.
With the growing interest of agricultural products for Mindanao, the government must pour in all the necessary support for our farmers to be able to meet the demands of the market.
According to the report, extension services can help farmers to raise productivity.
“Extension services disseminate best practices in the use of new advances, such as high-yield and climate-change-responsive seeds, and improved agricultural techniques. They can help farmers to diversify into higher-value crops and meet new production and environmental standards,” the report states.
While it has already been dubbed as a food basket, Mindanao still has lots of room to grow as a major food production facility. With the growing demand for food, the agricultural sector will need all the support it can get.