OCCIDENTAL MINDORO, September 27, 2022 – Continuous capacity building and agripreneurship training among the Mangyan Indigenous People (IP) beneficiaries are conducted by the Department of Agriculture – Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) Program emphasizing proper cultural management of cassava production.
Forty (40) farmers from Samahang Buhid at Hanunuo Mangyan ng Brgy. Naibuan (SBHMBN) and Samahan ng Katutubong Magsasaka ng Sitio Ibanag (SKMSI) participated in the training held in Brgy. Naibuan Hall in the municipality of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.
Spearheaded by Mr. Ulyssis B. Laredo, Agriculturist I from DA Occidental Mindoro Agricultural Program Coordinating Office (APCO), the training encompassed proper good agricultural practices in cassava production, including land preparation, seedling or planting materials selection, fertilization, and harvesting.
The training was scheduled to be conducted in 2021 but due to health restrictions implemented in the area, the activity was rescheduled until the restrictions were lifted. The activity is one of the three (3) cassava production-related training conducted in 2020, capacitating five (5) farmer’s associations (FAs) in the province.
Conventionally, the Mangyan beneficiaries shared that they are accustomed to practicing kaingin, or slash and burn agriculture, to prepare the soil before they plant cassava without following a specific guideline.
In response, Mr. Laredo emphasized on planting systematically or keeping a strict spacing of at least one (1) meter per tree and following the east-west orientation to fully maximize the sunlight during the day in order to produce better yield.
“Mas maganda na hilera ang pagtatanim ninyo ng balinghoy, para madali ninyong maani at madali rin ninyong maalagaan. Mas mainam din na ihahanay ninyo ang pagtatanim sa pagsikat at paglubog ng araw para makakuha ito ng mas maraming sikat ng araw.”
(It is ideal that cassava are planted in rows for the ease of harvest and care for it. It is also beneficial that cassava is planted parallel to where the sun rises and sets so that it can get more sun for its nourishment.)
Farmers are also reminded to practice record-keeping of their farming expenses, harvest, and income from pre-harvest to post-harvest to have a better grasp on their production.
Currently, both associations have a cumulative standing crop of 18.4 hectares (ha) of cassava with the majority expected to be harvested in March 2023. A member’s harvest averaged from 500 to 600 kg of cassava per hectare last cropping season, allocating their production solely for food consumption.
Farmers seldom sell their produce as their community is at least 26 kilometers from the local market, with rivers and rough roads in between. Consequently, they are accustomed to individual efforts when they sell small portions of their harvests.
“Kung magawa namin na makaani nang maramihan, maganda sana na mapuntahan kami ng buyer dito sa amin para makapagbenta rin kami,” a member of SBHMBN shared.
(If we are able to harvest in bulk, it is better if buyers come and visit us in our community so we can sell our products.)
With the application of proper cultural practices, a hectare of cassava can yield a maximum of 40 to 50 tons according to Mr. Laredo. Increased yield will lead to food security and increase the FAs’ options for markets such as the San Miguel Corporation (SMC), which buys in bulk with minimum volume production of 200 sacks of dried and chipped cassava.
Other SAAD FAs in the province, namely Sitio Hinugasan Cassava Planters Association in Paluan were able to sell 18.8 tons of dried and chipped cassava in 2021 for Php 160,276.00 while Calachuchi Indigenous Farmers Association (CIFA) earned Php 68,520.00 by selling 8.5 tons to SMC.
SAAD, through its area coordinators, assists the Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO) in linking the farmers to the market by taking note of projected harvest and looking for potential buyers for their produce.
In addition, SAAD also provided cassava cuttings, farm equipment such as grass cutter, draft animals (caraheifer) with plow and harrow, organic composting facilities, and supplementary interventions such as native goat or chicken production package to boost integrated farming and provide sustainable livelihood.
The production materials are complemented with capability building activity for the farmers under cassava production through enterprise FY 2020-2021 worth Php 3,011,000.00 and enhanced and sustainable cassava production project FY 2020-2021 worth Php 2,239,000.00.
Table 1. Livelihood assistance awarded to SKMSI and SBHMBN FAs
Two hundred sixty-seven (267) cassava farmers from various municipalities in Occidental Mindoro had undergone specialized training on cassava as of date, spearheaded by SAAD and supported by MAOs.
The farmers associations have also been clustered under cassava production with the help of the DA-Farm and Fisheries Clustering and Consolidation (F2C2) Program to utilize a wider marketing potential. ###
Writer: Dianne Francis A. Sy-Gorembalem, DA-SAAD MIMAROPA Information Officer
Mr. Jercel N. Catubig, DA-SAAD San Jose Area Coordinator
Mr. Ulyssis B. Laredo, DA APCO Occidental Mindoro Agriculturist
For related stories, see: