SAN AGUSTIN, PILI, CAMARINES SUR – To show that vegetable production thrives well even during rainy season, the Department of Agriculture conducted an Off-season Vegetable Production Technology Demonstration Seed Derby and Harvest Festival.The harvest festival was held on October 8, 2021 in a 0.25 hectare area inside the DA compound.

Dr. Mary Grace Rodriguez, Chief of the Field Operations Division and High Value Crops Development Program regional coordinator said that off-season vegetable cultivation or production of vegetables before or after its normal season is possible with the adjustment in the planting time, selection of improved varieties and creation of a controlled environment. Four seed companies, namely: Allied Botanical Corporation, Eastwest Seed Philippines, Seedworks Philippines and Ramgo International Corporation, participated in the vegetable derby which started in mid June 2021.

Main vegetable crops agreed upon to be showcased by the seeds companies included squash, eggplant, ampalaya, hot pepper (panigang and tingala varieties). The seed companies also planted other crops to showcase their other products: pole sitao and sweet corn for Eastwest Seed Phils; pole sitao, okra, cucumber, and sweet corn for Allied Botanical Corp; pole sitao, cucumber and watermelon for Seed Works; and pechay and sweet corn for Ramgo International.

Agronomic and other pertinent data such as variety, date of harvest and quantity were recorded by the HVCDP. A field tour gave the participants a chance to see for themselves the stand of the crop in the field and to ask questions and clarifications as each seed company set up exhibits and a representative was given 15 minutes to discuss their products and technology and also impart some tips. Amazement was evident in the faces of the participants as they saw with their own eyes the vegetable plants heavily laden with fruits.

DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla who led the harvest festival, said that the bountiful harvests from the 106 demo plots are tangible proofs that with the right variety and technology, farmers can still plant vegetables during rainy season. He added planting off –season vegetables can assure farmers of high income due to the high selling price of these vegetables. He added that DA is encouraging vegetable growers to try off-season planting to help lower the prices of vegetables which is a major contributor to the high overall inflation rate in Bicol in September 2021. He also said that the increasing prices of vegetables from September to October could be attributed to the reluctance of farmers to plant during rainy or typhoon season. He urged the farmers present to adopt the technologies they learned in the seed derby to boost their yield. “We at the DA continuously develop and showcase technologies like this off-season planting to increase farmers income,” Tornilla added.

Luz R. Marcelino, DA Bicol Regional Technical Director for Operations in her closing remarks, commended the seed companies for selflessly imparting their technologies, knowledge and expertise thru the seed derby. She encouraged not only the commercial vegetable growers but also families to adopt this off-season planting which is not only a step towards food security but also an answer to nutritional imbalance among children and adults. Among the 70 participants were Agricultural Extension Workers from Camarines Sur LGUs. Also present were presidents of clustered organizations presently engaged in commercial vegetable production, namely: Robert Buayaban, president of CLLS Federation of High Value Crops Growers, Inc.; Gilberto Ramboyong, president of Federation of Vegetable Growers in Iriga City; Henry Pandes, president of Pilinio Vegetable Growers Assn. Inc.; Leonardo Cachero, president of Federation of Vegetable Growers in Tinambac; and Edgar Lotivo, president of Polangui Federation of High Value Crops Growers. (Lovella P. Guarin – DA RAFIS 5) photo credit: RAFIS 5