July 15, 2024

Farmers and officials of La Trinidad, Benguet have turned down a proposal that sought to import to the country strawberries from South Korea.
Mayor Romeo K. Salda said a team from the Bureau of Plant Industry recently sought an audience with the municipal officials and other stakeholders regarding plans to import strawberries from South Korea.
Salda said during the consultation held recently, stakeholders did not agree with the plan, asserting the capability of cultivators and growers from La Trinidad and other towns in Benguet and Mountain Province to supply the demand for the fruit.
“We object plans to import fresh strawberries because our farmers can produce enough supply. We can even export strawberries; we just have to improve our packaging,” Salda said.
He said La Trinidad has once exported 17 tons of strawberries, although in the form of puree, to Japan in the 1980s.
The mayor added what the town needs are clean planting materials, which is why the local government is asking the Department of Agriculture to provide funds and allow the use of greenhouses at the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Facility for the production of strawberry runners.
In the proposal prepared by the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist (OMAG), the town sought P1.8 million from DA to set up the facilities that would make the two unused greenhouses at the BPTC operational.
Among the project components sought to be funded are irrigation connection, provision of electricity, and setting up of elevated iron beds for strawberry runners.
The municipal government will cover the expenses for planting materials and other supplies.
The use of the two greenhouses at BAPTC is seen to help the town’s goal of increasing the production of quality planting materials to be distributed to strawberry growers.
Under the proposal, legally imported planting materials will be grown as mother plants in the greenhouses to become more affordable and available to strawberry farmers.
It will also house the planting materials produced by the Benguet State University through tissue culture.
According to the OMAG, the local government continues to adopt the Japanese technology on production, in which the strawberry runner from the first to the 60th or 70th runners will only be taken.
This is so because trials have shown that those planted from the 70th runners have decreased productivity and are more prone to pests and diseases.
DA-Cordillera Information Officer Aida Pagtan shared the view that there is no need to import fresh strawberries because local supply is enough.
She said Agriculture Sec. William Dar supports the strawberry industry since strawberries are among the Cordillera products that will be supported under the agri-industrial business corridor, which aims to boost the productivity of farmers by providing them access to resources, including state-of-the-art production technology, capital, and value-adding facilities. – Jane B. Cadalig