SAN AGUSTIN, Pili, Camarines Sur-“Sell dried cassava than fresh cassava, and sell it to us!”

This was the appeal of Maymatan Multipurpose Cooperative (MMC) President Jerry M. Mercado to the more than 90 farmers, corn and cassava agricultural extension workers, Corn Board members, and Feed Milling Companies who participated in the Corn and Cassava Stakeholders Summit at Nabua, Camarines Sur.

Mercado encouraged the farmers to sell dried cassava which currently costs Php9.50/kg market compared to fresh, granulated or ripe which is bought at Php3.00/kg.

Cassava is considered as an attractive crop for agri-business and industry. In the discussion of San Miguel Corporation-South Luzon Area Coordinator Ben S. Brasales on SMC Cassava Assembler Program and Marketing, he encouraged the cassava farmers to organize themselves into an assembler group with a minimum of 20 hectares of cassava plantation. As an accredited assembler, the members are guaranteed with a market, guaranteed floor price, and technical assistance in production, postharvest and logistics operations.

 

Accredited assemblers in Bicol aside from MMC are Judge Montenegro-Tinangis Assembler in Pili, Camarines Sur and KSP-VAC Assembler in Cawayan, Masbate.

At present, SMC has a sustainable sourcing program of dried cassava in Mindanao for feeds.

DA-5 Regional Corn Coordinator Lorenzo L. Alvina proposed the merging of cassava and corn board.

Mercado cited that government support or interventions on pre- and post-harvest facilities and equipment will boost cassava industry. He cited the Legazpi City government which helped in the land preparation and marketing of the cassava by engaging the scavengers to plant cassava.
For 2016, the Bicol Region produced 108,629 metric tons of cassava.

Bicol Corn Board President Romualdo J. Elvira, Jr. said that the estimated annual corn production of Bicol Region for 2016 increased by 7.70% or an increment of 18,770 metric tons. One contributing factor is Bt Corn. He stressed the advantages of genetically-modified crops especially corn, eggplant and golden rice. Information and Education about GM Crops should be prioritized.

Elvira also said that with the BCB opened up new production areas in Mercedes and Labo, Camarines Norte and in Masbate. They provided market networks for Labo Corn Grower Association to Arrow Feeds; Mercedes Corn Cluster Organization to BMEG Feeds; Nonoy de la Cruz to Seeds Producers in Bukidnon; and Mayor Severo to Quezon Poultry and Livestock Corporation.

The BCB also facilitated the establishment of post-harvest facilities for Tigaon Grain Center ; Pili, Village Type Grain Center; Daraga Village type Grain Center; and Ligao Village Type Grain Center.

The livestock industry is one of the big contributors in the economic development of the Philippines although the government support is not enough to sustain the industry. In the Bicol Region, the industry is being faced with issues on costly inputs, proximity to infected country especially Avian Influenza, access to credit, smuggling, unpredictable weather patterns, high cost of breeder and commercial stocks and declining pasture areas.

DA 5 Science Research Assistant Marianito A. Tesorero said that the Bicol region has a large number of livestock animals. However, corn production in the Bicol region cannot supply the needed volume to feed the livestock industry. He encouraged the farmers to include cassava in their produce since it is a good animal feed alternative.

DA-5 Assistant Regional Corn Program Coordinator Dean L. Medrano presented the Status of the Cassava Marketing Operation and Trading in the Bicol Region. The second, third and fourth districts of Camarines Sur are potential cassava areas for development because of the presence of feed millers, input supply and bulk buyers, and as poultry center.

One of the major issues of cassava and corn are the emerging pests and diseases that affect the production of farmers. DA-5 Senior Science Research Specialist Giovanni F. Valenciano said that the corn farms in Tigaon, Calabanga, Baao and Naga City were affected by Corn Plant Hopper or waya-waya. Valenciano advised the farmers to practice fallow period, crop rotation, synchronous planting, and intercropping leguminous plants.

Engr. Eduardo Villamor, President of the AIMS Agriventure, presented the new Farm Equipment and Facilities for Cassava like the Cassava Belt Conveyor Dryer; Cassava Dryer; Kubota M9540; and Cassava Uprooter. For corn, the equipment presented were Corn Planter, Corn Harvester; Corn Picker; Self-propelled corn combine harvester; and Corn Dryer.

As assistance to the farmers and assemblers especially for their credit and crop insurance, the Banco Santiago de Libon is offering Agri-Loan to the farmers. Credit Management Division Chief Cristina Salvamente said that the bank has a 100M pesos loan investment for farmers “kasi magaling magbayad ang mga magsasaka.”

According to Philippine Statistics Authority Focal Person for Cereals Naser Tuazon, 42,000 families in Bicol are dependent on corn and cassava for livelihood.

OIC-Regional Technical Director for Operations and Extension Rodel P. Tornilla stressed the importance of the summit saying that the “inputs of the participants are valuable for future plans for cassava and corn development.” (Jayson M. Gonzales with photos from Arvin Nolasco)