NEGROS Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. underscored the need to increase production of high-value crops (HVCs) in the province in the wake of the challenges faced by the sugar industry.
Marañon, who spoke at the 1st Food Production Heroes Assembly dubbed “Baganihan sa Kaumahan” held at the Capitol Social Hall in Bacolod City yesterday, urged farmers to diversify, if not totally convert, their farms by mainly growing more HVCs.
“There is a minimal income with sugarcane especially if farmers only have a one-hectare farm. The chance to recover their huge production cost is too small,” he said, adding that with HVCs, “the cost of production is low but the income is high.”
The governor cited crops that have potential market, including ginger, banana, jackfruit, cacao, coffee, and various root crops such as sweet potato and yam.
He said the country is currently importing most of these HVCs, like yam and jackfruit, from Thailand.
“There is a shortage in supply of ginger. The consumption for chocolate is also increasing thus, farmers growing these products are assured of available market,” Marañon said.
The provincial government had earlier sent an agriculturist to Davao to train on coffee and cacao production and eventually teach farmers in the upland areas of the province.
The governor expressed optimism that with right technologies, the province can produce more HVCs through organic farming system to further increase the profitability of local farmers.
“Let us help each other,” Marañon said, as he assured farmers of the province’s support through the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA).
During the assembly themed “Paghugpong sang mga Baganihan sa Kaumahan, Dalan Padulong sa Kabuganaan kag Kauswagan,” recognized were 91 individual and farmer groups who have excelled and contributed to the growing agriculture industry of Negros Occidental.
Six of these outstanding farmers, who are recipients of various local, regional and national agriculture awards from 2013 to 2016, shared their success stories during the awarding rites.
Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino said they are gathering outstanding farmers to become active partners by serving as “laboratory” for other farmers to also boost their production.
He said these outstanding farmers were also organized into an association that will soon register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
“Once organized, they can be our partners in extending education trainings to other farmers in the province,” Masculino said, adding that one advantage of being an association is the opportunity to avail various supports like provision of Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) Learning Center.
For Marañon, farmers are the true heroes as they are the ones feeding the people.
Though it is sad to think that the Philippines is an agricultural country, yet farmers are still the poorest sector, he added.