LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The municipal government is strongly recommending to the administration of the State-run Benguet State University (BSU) to spare the strawberry farmers that may be displaced in the implementation of a Korean research project that is aimed at improving strawberry production in the province.
Mayor Romeo K. Salda stated that BSU has many research areas that could be given to the Koreans wanting to conduct extensive research on how to further improve the production of strawberries and the quality of the fruit for the benefit of the strawberry farmers in the Benguet and Mountain Province.
He pointed out that the possible displacement of some 56 strawberry farmers in their production areas being rented out from BSU might have a huge impact on the volume of strawberries produced for the market and trigger an increase in the prices of the fruit that would definitely affect sales in the different markets inside and outside the province.
The municipal chief executive admitted that strawberry production has been one of the major sources of livelihood of hundreds of agriculture industry stakeholders in the municipality over the past several decades that is why the displacement of a significant number of strawberry farmers will surely impact on the volume of the produced strawberries and BSU must take a second look at the proposal of some Korean researchers to use the existing strawberry farms for their project.
While the research project will improve the current state of strawberry production in the province, Mayor Salda underscored that its implementation should not cause the displacement of a good number of strawberry farmers so as not to affect the supply of strawberries from the municipality.
According to him, there should be a ‘win-win’ solution between the affected farmers, BSU administration and the Korean researchers, so that the effect of the upcoming research project will not negatively impact on the existing volume of strawberries produced by the farmers, but instead, result to further increase in production to stabilize the supply of strawberries being patronized by tourists visiting the province.
He stipulated that all possible strategies to reduce the impact of the Korean research project to the strawberry farmers should be explored by BSU to address the issues and concerns being raised by the affected farmers for the satisfaction of all concerned parties.
The BSU is renting out a portion of its vast track of land in the municipality to strawberry farmers who had been actively involved in the production of strawberries over the past several decades until it gained popularity as the town’s major product.
In 2004, the municipal government, in partnership with local bakers, produced and presented to the public the Largest Strawberry Shortcake which eventually landed in the Guinness Book of world Records that paved the way for La Trinidad being identified as the primary source of strawberries and boosted the growth of the local tourism industry.
The municipal government also institutionalized the annual conduct of the Strawberry festival as the town’s major crowd drawing event which is celebrated every March which is the peak season in the production of strawberries.