By Alexander Villafania
TACLOBAN CITY, LEYTE - In an effort to create a huge vegetable industry in the Leyte, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Philippine National Oil Company - Energy Development Corporation (PNOC-EDC) are putting in P92 million to develop a 20,000-hectare area at the Tongonan mountain range that surrounds Ormoc City and the town of Kananga.
The massive project called Agri-Pinoy integrated and diversified program will last for five years and will benefit at least 5,600 farmers from 23 farmers' associations from OK's Leyte Geothermal Production Field (LGPF).
The focus would be on land preparation, cultivation, harvesting, processing, and marketing of high value vegetables. Among the vegetables being currently planted are cabbages, green onions, tomatoes, eggplants, radishes, chayote, cucumber, and pineapples.
These will be enhanced by planting crops, durian, rambutan, jackfruits, coffee and abaca.
As such, the concept is to turn Ormoc and Kananga into a major “Salad Bowl.”
From the allocation, the DA will use P29 million to put up a consolidation center and pilot packaging facility. Beneficiary farmers will also be given marketing support. Another P13 million will also be used for research and development into new farming techniques and plant development.
Likewise, the PNOC-EDC will provide about P50 million for farmer financing. This will be divided to P10 million per year for the next five years.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the five-year project should improve the lives of poor farmers within OK by having them learn some entrepreneurship skills. Having local farmers turn themselves into businessmen would also improve the region's economic status.
Alcala said that among the beneficiary farmers would be those from seven villages in Kananga and nine villages in Ormoc City.