LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Weather changes have affected berries of this town.
Fely Ticbaen of the Municipal Agriculture Office said climate change has lessened production of the luscious fruit endemic to the town.
Town records show there has been a drop in production over the last years, with a typical strawberry farmer harvesting a mere 16 tons per hectare compared to a high of 21 tons per hectare in the past.
Extreme weather changes affect production of strawberries, which need dry to cool weather to survive, and sudden rains brought by climate change cause flooding to fields intended for strawberries, deeming it spoiled.
Ticbaen said there have been measures to augment the plight of farmers with the Japanese-inspired technology of elevated strawberry gardens now in its test phase at the LongLong area.
Barangays Puguis and Betag are still top producers of the town’s most popular product, usually planting season starts in September all the way until April if there are no rains.
Because of the onset of climate change, berry planting season has been offset by off season downpours and sudden heat waves not in the weather vane of the municipality, causing production to plunge.
In the Valley, there are 66 hectares dedicated to strawberry production while a 300-hectare area for cut flowers, the largest and most economically dedicated, is for upland vegetable production.
The Municipal Agriculture Office revealed that from 2001 to 2009, aside from fruit trees that produced 203,125, cut flower is also leading among all agricultural product production.
In 2009, cut flowers (in dozen) produced 18,012,668, followed by vegetables, which has 1,490,500, plantation crops - 17,800, and strawberry - 17,800. Root crops produced 370, while palay production got the lowest with 140.
Ticabaen said importation of another batch of strawberry planting materials is underway for distribution to local farmers, as well as clean materials for planting aimed to reinvigorate crops in the town for tissue culture.