November 30, 2022

In a bid to continue the cultivation of ava (taro), the Municipal Agriculture Office of Tuba, Benguet urged its farmers to go organic to rid the pest that threatens its primary crops.

The town’s ava producers have been fighting off the pest since 2015 said Municipal Agricultural Officer Marlyn Cabanes.

BIGGEST AVA — Mayor Clarita Sal-ongan of Tuba, Benguet presents the biggest ava (taro) during the town’s 7th Ava Festival on Sept. 26 to 28 , which highlights its “one town one product.” The municipality is still recovering from the pests that hit its ava production in 2005, causing low supply of the product, thus the mounting of the activity to encourage the continuous production of ava. — Ofelia Empian

She said the pest attack, especially molds, coupled with the long-term use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, has reduced the town’s ava production through the years.

The MAO has since advised the farmers to employ organic farming so that the condition of the soil would improve.

Ava is an income generating commodity of town. There are 360 ava producers in town based on MAO survey.

She said organic farming would also help farmers lessen the use of synthetic farm inputs, which has increased prices recently

Some farmers are already employing organic farming but many of are still using synthetic farm inputs to grow ava and other root crops such as ube and camote.

Baguio City remains the town’s biggest market for ava where its big size Chinese variety is being purchased by restaurants and bakeshops. The smaller sizes are left for home consumption or are being sold at the municipal markets. 

Most of the supply of ava comes from barangays San Pascual, Nangalisan, Tabaan Norte, and Camp 1 which are mostly hot to semi-temperate areas.

During the 7th Ava Festival, various products and byproducts from ava were displayed including pising (taro leaf), ava pie, ava cake, ava tarts, and other processed products out of the town’s one town one product.

Mayor Clarita Sal-ongan said they give financial assistance and farm inputs to its farmers and encourage them to continue planting ava.

The municipality also assists its micro small and medium enterprises through linkages with government and private agencies to exhibit their products out of ava and other produce from the town.

The festival was celebrated on Sept. 26 to 28 with a theme, “Revitalizing sustainable entrepreneurship opportunities through regenerative agri-eco-socio-cultural tourism”.    In 2014, the municipality passed Ordinance 231-2014 institutionalizing ava as its OTOP in place of ube, which was earlier identified as OTOP in 2007. – Ofelia C. Empian