Vol. XXII, No. 148 [ BusinessWorld Online ]
Friday, February 27, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES
SALAY, MISAMIS ORIENTAL — Small-scale farmers in this small agricultural town are currently testing the suitability of pineapple, a major export crop for Northern Mindanao, amid local conditions, specifically, in terms of soil quality and availability of rainfall.
FARMERS harvest pineapple in Bukidnon. More areas in Northern Mindanao will soon be able to accommodate commercial production of the crop. — Romer B. Sarmiento�
And from initial results, the town could host commercial-scale production of this high-value crop.
Although produced in many parts of Misamis Oriental as well as in the nearby province of Bukidnon, pineapple has not been grown here in commercial quantity in the past. The town is largely covered with coconut trees along its coastline, intercropped with bananas and other tropical fruits such as lanzones, and mangoes.
Changes, however, are happening with interventions from Del Monte Philippines, Inc. and several government agencies.
Two weeks ago, farmers made their initial harvest of pineapples in a 10-hectare area. Most of these farmers were members of the local cooperative that benefited from a pineapple-growing project.
Dubbed PineappleGrow, it is a joint project of the Salay government, Del Monte, Land Bank of the Philippines and Department of Agrarian Reform. More than 220 farmer beneficiaries benefited from the project under the agribusiness enterprise initiative of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
In the project concept, Del Monte provided the technology and serves as the market for the fruits harvested. The Landbank extends its financial assistance to the farmer growers.
Del Monte operates major pineapple plantations in Bukidnon as well as cannery in this city’s Bugo area.
Landbank has been active in funding agribusiness projects, not only in Mindanao where most of these ventures are, but nationwide. The bank recently announced that it has released a total of P23.5 billion in loans to small farmers and fisherfolk in various regions. Its report stated that loans for crop production grew by P3.8 billion to P10.2 billion last year from P6.4 billion in 2007.
The agribusiness development program of CARP, said Agrarian Reform regional officials, enhances the capability of agrarian reform communities to further increase their contribution to the country’s gross domestic product as well as increase the income of the rural farmers. — Geefe P. Alba