LA TRINIDAD, Benguet– The Cordillera office of the Department of Agriculture (DA-CAR) assured the public that there is no shortage of potato supply being produced in Benguet amidst earlier reports on alleged shortage of potatoes being used for French fries as claimed by certain fast food chains operating in the country.
DA-CAR regional executive director Dr. Cameron Odsey clarified that most potato varieties being produced by farmers in Benguet and some parts of Mountain province and Ifugao is the Granola variety which is a table potato variety.
He added that the aforesaid variety was the preferred variety of many vegetable farmers during the previous trials and surveys conducted by the agency together with partner stakeholders such as the Benguet State University (BSU).
However, Odsey claimed that the DA and BSU are open to venture into the mass production of processing varieties which are the ones preferred by fast food chains to produce adequate supply of potatoes for French fries locally but it would involve the various agriculture industry stakeholders to come together to make it happen.
According to him, venturing into potato processing varieties entails different cultural management practices as well as storage to be able to maintain and ensure the quality of the said varieties that will be provided to the fast food chains to guarantee the stability of potato supply for the favorite French fries of the people.
The DA-CAR official pointed out that another factor to be considered in the mass production of the processing varieties of potatoes is the interest and consistency of the farmers to sustain its production and supply.
For her part, BSU Northern Philippine Rootcrops Research and Training Center (NPRCRTC) Director Cynthia G. Kiswa revealed that the Granola variety is a low maturing variety which means that it needs shorter duration to mature unlike the processing varieties, hence, over the years, the DA and other agriculture industry stakeholders focused on the production of table potatoes.
She explained that in relation to the same, BSU, through the NPRCRTC is coming up with a proposal that will focus on cultural management practices suited for potato processing.
Further, the conduct of a potato stakeholders meeting is also being planned to extensively discuss the said matter.
She stipulated that whatever will be the outcome of the proposed meeting will be inputted to the DA and BSU for consideration in the formulation of future programs, projects and activities that are geared towards significantly advancing the state of the province’s vegetable industry, especially the production of consistent supply of processing potatoes needed by the fastfood chains for their highly patronized French fries.
For the past several decades, Benguet remains to be the producer of over 80 percent of the supply of highland vegetables being sold in the different markets around the country that paved the way for its being given the title Salad Bowl of the Philippines.