MOUNTAIN PROVINCE, March 25, 2022 – Paracelis is a municipality of Mountain Province situated at an elevation of 260 meters above sea level, the clime is the perfect blend expected of zones transitioning from highlands to lowlands. The wide expanse and temperate climate create the ideal conditions for growing tropical fruit trees.
But there’s more to Paracelis than being great for growing tropical fruit trees. In the estimate of the Office of Agriculture Services (OFAS, 2020), 9,417 hectares (ha) of the total municipal land area is apportioned to corn production, while 3,000ha is allotted for banana, 200ha for mango, 135ha for coconut, 119ha for Robusta coffee, and 46ha for coconut. The status of corn production in the municipality is remarkable, a feat that was also only dreamt of years back. But with the vastness and climate of Paracelis, it has the potential for more variety and productivity.
As the earth struggles to maintain ecological balance, more trees are needed for ground cover. Trees last generations, while crops like corn engage the land for a short 3-month cycle. The extensive root system of trees helps keep the soil from eroding, also reducing run-off water.
With the guidance of the OFAS and with the above intentions, Barangay Bunot became eligible and ideal for a project on fruit trees production under the Department of Agriculture – Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) Program.
The Bunot Integrated Agricultural Development Farmers Association (BIADFA), with initially 190 members, was a beneficiary of the DA-SAAD’s Fruit Trees Intercropped with Soybeans Project worth Php 5,719,000 in 2019. A total of 1,900 cacao seedlings for 5.7ha of production area, 1,900 lanzones seedlings for 9.31ha of land, 1,900 rambutan seedlings for a 9.31ha of land, and 190 kilograms (kg) soybeans for 2.28 ha of production, were equally distributed to the members.
In addition, also provided were 100 sacks of complete fertilizers (14-14-14), 190 sprinklers, 190 knapsack sprayers, 190 shovels, 190 grab hoes, 190 rakes, 190 hand trowels, 190 pruning shears, 19 mini-tillers, and 19 brush cutters.
A sub-project, a 30-square meter (sqm) composting shed was turned over to BIADFA on March 11, 2020. Five kilograms of African Night Crawlers (ANC), a heavy-duty wheelbarrow, one black plastic sheet, one black net, and one gasoline-fed shredder were also given. This sub-project aimed to address the expressed need for locally-available fertilizer, a challenge for smallholder farmers to source out in marginalized communities like Bunot.
In 2020, the Bunot Ambarowan Farmers Organization (BAFO), another farmers’ organization with 190 members, received a project on Fruit Trees and Peanut Seeds Production amounting to Php4,203,750. This includes 1,900 cacao seedlings to be planted in an area of 5.7ha, 1,900 lanzones seedlings for 9.31ha of production area, 1,900 rambutan seedlings for 9.3ha of production, and 380 kilograms of peanut seeds for 5.7ha of land. Supplementary agricultural inputs and farm tools such as 95 sacks of complete fertilizer, 190 pruning shears, 190 shovels, 190 grab hoes, 190 rakes, 190 stainless trowels, 190 knapsack sprayers, and 95 backpack brush cutters were also distributed.
For 2021, a project worth Php 1,019,250 on the Production of Seedlings was awarded to BAFO. A rain shelter intended for nursery establishment was finished in October, with fertilizers, nursery tools, and supplies set to arrive early next year. Seedlings of 25 lanzones (Paite), 25 lanzones (Longcong), 25 durian (Thailand variety), 25 durian (Davao variety), 25 marang, 25 mangosteen, 25 guyabano, 50 coffee (Robusta), 25 rambutan (Tuklapin), 25 rambutan (Maharlika), and 25 rambutan (Rongrein) were programmed. In addition to these, 10 kilograms each of Lanzones, Durian, Marang, Mangosteen, Guyabano, and Rambutan seeds, and 5 kilograms Coffee seeds were also included to be planted across the group’s 24.32ha of production area.
Alongside the interventions, in partnership with OFAS, a series of technical training on fruit tree production was carried out to capacitate the beneficiaries further. Among others, they learned about proper depth and width of plots, proper care and maintenance activities, and basic pest and disease management practices.
As per project monitoring status in October 2021, the soybeans yielded a cumulative harvest of 190 kg in an approximately 19,000sqm production area. Records show that 7% of the total 5,700 seedlings of rambutan, lanzones, and cacao distributed in 2019 are in the fruit-bearing stage while the rest are in the growth stage.
The number of seedlings provided to the two organizations in Bunot covers significantly the 6,508.9ha of this barangay’s land area. With their growth, Barangay Bunot is closer to becoming the fruit basket of Mountain Province, at the same time providing a positive environmental impact. ###
Writer: Gawani D. Gaongen, Project Development Officer, Sagada