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Gov't allots 5,000 has for peanut plantation

By Marianne V. Go (The Philippine Star) Updated September 02, 2011

MANILA, Philippines - The government is allocating 5,000 hectares in Cagayan Valley for planting to protein-rich peanut which is deemed an ideal climate change-mitigating crop with its nitrogen-fixing property.

The Department of Agriculture (DA)-Cagayan Valley Integrated Agricultural Research Center (CVIARC) targets a 43 percent increase in peanut production in Region 2 in three to five years.

At present, the total area planted to peanuts is only 3,500 has.

“We want to continue our support for peanut breeding and production because peanut remains to be a minor crop rather than a cash crop even if farmers have an opportunity to make money from it by replacing our big import,” said Dr. Nicomedes P. Eleazar, Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) director.

The country imports an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 metric tons (MT) of peanut yearly out of a total supply of 60,000 to 70,000 MT.

The DA sees peanut production as a climate change-mitigating crop with its ability to reduce the emission of greenhouse gas-emitting nitrous oxide.

Furthermore, peanut is drought-resistant having an average irrigation water requirement ranging from four to 50 millimeter per application.

Legumes — peanut, mungbean, and soybean included — can capture nitrogen from the air, “fix” it into plant food, and thus make it a natural fertilizer to the plant.

CVIARC peanut project leader Rose Mary G. Aquino said the BAR program involves breeding for improved peanut varieties.

This also has a seed support component from the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry, Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD).

“We want to stabilize peanut production in Region 2 which has been erratic due to farmers’ shifting from planting peanut to yellow corn as a result of insufficient peanut seed supply during planting season,” Aquino said.

The Philippines imports more than 50 percent of its peanut supply primarily from China.

The peanut project should revive Region 2’s leadership in peanut production. Its peanut area was at 22,000 hectares in the 1990s, although yield was very low at 0.65 MT per hectare.

“Region 2 was once a big peanut producer. But due to the low yield and therefore low income, farmers shifted to yellow corn,” a BAR report said.

Legumes are eyed by DA as poverty reduction crops.

When inter-planted with corn or rice, legumes can raise land use efficiency and farmers’ income.

At a production cost of P27,030, a farmer may earn a net income of P22,970 out of a 2,000 kilo per hectare yield, given a P25 per kilo farm gate price.

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