MANKAYAN, Benguet – Benguet Province is the top producer of highland vegetables in the Cordillera, contributing to about 292,535.11 MT accounting to 83.34% of the total regional vegetable production, based on the Philippine Statistics Authority 2021 Vegetable Situationer.
Most of this produce came from the municipality of Mankayan and Buguias.
One of the farmers who contributed to the province’s percentage is Janice Ngaseo from Balili, Mankayan, Benguet. She started farming when they began to raise a family with her loving and supportive husband. Their main crop is potatoes, considered a high-value crop and a priority crop in the province.
Ngaseo acknowledged that before they were aware of the programs of the Department of Agriculture (DA), their life as farmers was tough and every farming activity was done manually. But now as a recipient of machinery and equipment such as tractors, grass cutters, power sprayers, and various farm inputs, farm work is a little bit lighter.
Aside from tending their D-Family Farm, Ngaseo is also the president of the BLESTDAM Farmer’s Irrigators Association, Inc. She explored possibilities for advancing their farming practices to make farming easier. As a beneficiary of the DA, they were able to avail various interventions from DA and are now being utilized in their farms. They also received a twin tunnel greenhouse that is very useful in protecting their crops especially during typhoon season.
She further expanded her skills and knowledge by constantly attending trainings and seminars to acquire the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification. Her farm became GAP certified on June 2021. “We were able to see the beauty of good farming practices. We have learned the correct use of pesticides, how to properly store our farm tools, and on-farm production and post-production processes that are being advanced so that the food we produce in our farms are safe to eat and are of good quality. At the outset, we could not appreciate it because there were many processes, but we realized that it really helped our farmers because it is also for our protection,” she stated.
As a farmer who experienced the benefit of this, she stated that she will continue to share her knowledge with other farmers, especially with her family and to their community, including the youth who are now engaged in farming.
On the other hand, Mankayan Municipal Mayor Dario S. Banario advised the other farmers who are not yet certified to apply for GAP certification, “We must practice GAP to increase competitiveness in the high-end market, especially that potato commands a higher price. I also advise you to practice organic agriculture,” he said.
To date, there are 237 GAP-certified farms in Mankayan out of the 342 GAP-certified farms in the region. By LDMendoza and CEWaytan