Philippine gov’t eyes solutions to veggie frosting in Benguet
by FFE PH News Staff
The Department of Agriculture (DA) announced it has already laid plans for long-term and short-term solutions against frosting in the Philippines’ major vegetable bowls. This news comes after an earlier statement issued by the department reassuring Metro Manila that the recent frosting in Benguet will not lead to shortage of vegetables.
The DA is closely monitoring barangays Paoay, Atok and Madaymen in Kibungan, Benguet after frost affected three hectares of potato and cabbage farms. They reported that only one-fourth out of the 25,000 hectares of vegetable farms in Benguet had been damaged: a small portion of the vast production area, assured Agriculture officials.
However, the DA announced it is not taking chances and revealed their plans to boost the resilience of farmers against frosting. Agriculture secretary Proceso Alcala said ‘We will not allow President Aquino’s term to expire without giving a permanent solution to that problem.’
The DA is set to deliver initial assistance to affected farmers in Benguet that includes 10 units of power sprayers; 20 rolls of rubber hose; 50 pieces of plastic drums and 10 rolls of plastic sheets to make rain shelters. Several kilos of replacement seeds will be provided. An info caravan that will teach 100 farmers about frosting and measures against crop damage is also set to visit the area by the end of the week. The department said around 500 farmers will benefit from the initial assistance.
For their long-term solution, the DA plans to construct more water-impounding facilities designed to pump water to elevated areas. Additional rain shelters and greenhouses are also being eyed to allow farmers to grow crops during rainy and cold seasons.
Agriculture officials said that timely application of farming methods will help cut losses. Adjusting the planting calendars and sprinkling water before frosting to reduce chances of wilting are already some methods that are adopted by farmers in the area.
The secretary clarified that the immediate solutions ‘have already been incorporated in our 2014 programming prepared a year ago. So now, it is just a matter of hastening, or in some cases, expanding the scope of its implementation.’ The DA has already established a Php2.4m water facility, a greenhouse and distributed several units of power sprayers in the most vulnerable areas. Seeds were also distributed to the provincial government last year.
Fears of shortage of vegetables hit Metro Manila for the past few days as the temperature continued to drop around the country. Yesterday, Baguio registered an all-time low of 9.6 degrees Celsius, the lowest recorded temperature in the city this year. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) expects that cool weather will prevail in the coming days or weeks because of an enhanced northeast monsoon or amihan.
The DA said that should there be a shortage of vegetables, secondary sources like the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino should be at the ready.