City’s Farmers Given New Crops and Schemes to Increase Incomes in WMSU Symposium
November 28, 2006

THE CITY’s farmers can easily raise their incomes if they adopt the latest opportunities and developments in agriculture, such as those offered by the contract growing of jatropha and cassava.

This was the main message of Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) President Dr. Eldigario Gonzales to over 200 farmer leaders who came to participate in the 2-day Anti-Poverty and Food Security Symposium and Agri-Expo 2006 held at the university campus starting today, Monday to tomorrow. The event is sponsored by the Western Mindanao Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research Development Consortium (WESMARRDEC), of which Dr. Gonzales is the regional chairman. The inter-agency research body is celebrating its anniversary.

Dr. Gonzales told the farmers that the crops being featured in the symposium all have markets at present, and are, therefore, assured of profitable returns. Aside from jatropha and cassava, also discussed in the symposium is the raising of fast-growing and bulky native chiken called “darag” developed by the Western Visayas State University and Western Visayas Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research Development Consortium (WESVARRDEC). The topic was discussed by WESVARRDEC Project Director Dr. Marilou Ang-Lopez.

The contract growing of cassava was discussed by a representative of San Miguel Corporation, which uses the crop in several of its products. It imports cassava from Thailand because local production is far less than its usual requirements.

On the other hand, jatropha (or tangan-tangan in the local vernacular) is now a rich source of ethanol, which is used as an additive in diesel fuel. Under a law recently passed by Congress, gas companies are required to sell bio-diesel with up to 10% ethanol content within the next few years. This means that plants like jatropha will be in great demand in years ahead, Dr. Gonzales said. He said the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC), of which he is president, has entered into an agreement with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to propagate the painting of jatropha through State agricultural colleges.

He said WESMARRDEC is in the forefront of agricultural researches whose innovations and discoveries are helping local farmers raise better crops and improve their lives. Because of globalization, Filipino farmers must continuously raise their productivity and come out with better crops to be able to compete against imported agricultural items, he also noted.

The agri-expo located at the WMSU carpark features the farm outputs of the six farmer’s districts of the city. Products at low prices are for sale. The symposium is held in the university gymnasium. (Rey-Luis Banagudos / PAO-WMSU)