The Department of Agriculture-Cordillera (DA-CAR) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) through the Japanese non-government organization IC-NET has started the demonstration trials in five farming areas in Atok and Buguias, Benguet under the MV2C technical cooperation Pilot Project 1-B (MV2C PP-1B) or the “Dispersion of Vegetable Production and Shipment Timing by Optimizing of Greenhouse Cultivation”.
Dr. Aki Kubota, Expert-in-Charge of MV2C PP-1B explained that Benguet was chosen as one of two pilot areas for the said training project in the country, based on Benguet’s capacity to produce vegetables as compared to other areas in the region having varying elevations.
This project provides technical support that will enhance the knowledge and skills of farmers to adapt to new ways of producing high value crops such as tomato and lettuce. Six cropping patterns are being tried under a greenhouse to determine the appropriate crop combination that would optimize the use of the greenhouse.
“We have two pilot projects which are in Benguet and Quezon Province. Here in Benguet, what we want is for the farmers to utilize the greenhouses that was mostly provided by the High Value Crop Development Program (HVCDP), and last year when we had the planning phase, we were informed that not all the farmers are utilizing the greenhouses fully, that’s why we wanted to introduce some cropping patterns on the varieties so that they can take advantage of the greenhouses in Benguet,” Kubota said.
Romaine lettuce was transplanted by two farmers in Atok and eight farmers in Buguias in July and is expected to be harvested in August this year. The crops being tried at present are romaine lettuce (Xanadu), sweet pepper (Sultan and California Wonder), tomato (27878 and Ranger), and broccoli.
Dr. Leonora Verzola, Senior Regional Specialists of MV2C Project for Benguet stated that among the PPIB technology items being introduced to the farmers are the effective cropping patterns in greenhouses that would sell vegetables in the market at a higher price, introduction of new varieties of tomato (indeterminate type of tomato), plant training techniques for long time harvesting of tomato and sweet pepper, the usage of fruit-set hormones, sticky insect trap sheet, proper harvest timing of tomato, fertilizer application design based on soil test.
Testing of soil by quick soil test kits, improving soil structure by introducing green manure crop, grafting of tomato, opportunity for information exchange among farmers, and assessing the farm cost income and planning for next season are also part of the technology items introduced.
Among the first group of participating farmers were Mateo Miguel and Daniel Sacley of the Cattubo Multi-Purpose Cooperative (CMPC) who were both chosen to plant Tomato (#27878) and Tomato Ranger and Broccoli Lettuce, while Vilma Punasen, Winny Taynan, and Johnny Butangan of the Atok Good Practitioners Association (AGPA) were chosen to plant Broccoli-Sultan and Lettuce Sultan.
During the pre-assessment activity of the five farmers together with Dr. Kubota after the on-farm training on tomato production, Jonny Butangan expressed the groups appreciation for the technical support provided by JICA in cooperation with DA-CAR.
“This technical training provided by that JICA together with the DA-CAR to us has given us the opportunity to share and learn from experiences from our co-farmers strengthening camaraderie among us, it gave us an overview of what our target markets are, the consideration of product prices from buyers, the logistics and payment, securing our plants before harvest, determining plant rows based on area and environment, and maximizing the area of productivity,” Butangan stated.
DA-CAR is set to expand the MV2C program in other parts of the region after the pilot project depending on the results of the pilot project.
“Our plan is after Bugias and Atok, next year we start with Mankayan and Kibungan. We have four municipalities as our target decided by JICA. After that, it would be the DA’s responsibility to spread this technology or approach,” Kubota added.