Strawberry produced in this capital town has significantly increased in 2022, but areas for planting of the iconic product remained threatened, a senior municipal agriculture official said. Nida Organo, head of the municipal agriculture office (OMAg) revealed to mediamen during the recent Kapihan press forum for 2023 Strawberry Festival that “land conversion” remain a threat. “In reality conversion – especially owners of ( private) lots posed a threat on the future of our product (strawberry).”

Based on the local municipal agriculture office record, plantation areas registered at 39 hectares (ha.) in 2022; 36 ha. in 2021 while 52 hectares in 2020 – spread in different barangays in this town
known as the “Salad Bowl” of the country A total of 1,020 strawberry farmers were recorded last year as compared to 952 (2021) and a high of 1,360 farmers in 2020. On production, some 11.96
metric tons (mt) were produced in 2022 compared to 7.94 2021.

White strawberry ( Japanese variety) is fastly becoming popular differentiated with other varieties namely—Sweet Charlie,Dorango,San Andreas/ Winterdawn, Red Milk ( brought by a Chinese businessman),and Benehoppe ( originated in Japan). Addressing the issue of land conversion, Mayor Romeo Salda stressed that his administration strongly support the move – no more construction of structures at the sprawling strawberry farm lot in Barangay Betag, owned by Benguet State University (BSU).

Sangguniang Bayan (SB) member Henry Kipas also echoed the local comprehensive land use plan
(CLUP) ordinance ,a measure that must be strictly implemented in order not to compromise the production of strawberry. In the same press forum, Mayor Salda said that his administration together with Vice Mayor Roderick Awingan are committed to sustain agricultural program to improve the economic condition of farmers.

This year, some P1.27 million was allocated mainly for strawberry production. Following interventions by the local government unit (lgu) include—provisions of planting material tissue culture; polyethylene sheet for tunnel (for strawberry runners production); farm inputs distribution of seedlings ; establishment of elevated seedbeds. Product promotion and marketing support like this forthcoming festival (strawberry) , and extension services are provided to include stakeholders consultation on the importation of planting material.

Primo Agatep/ABN

Amianan Balita Ngayon