‘Lawin’ effect: Strawberry growers work overtime
LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET—Strawberry growers in this capital town are working double time to rehabilitate gardens destroyed by Supertyphoon “Lawin” last month, as demand for the berries rises with the coming yuletide holidays.
Lawin cost farmers as much as P4 million in damaged berries and even with rehabilitation efforts, strawberry picking will be delayed by a month or until January because of the extent of the damage, said Lolita Bentres, Benguet provincial agriculturist.
Bentres was referring to a La Trinidad tourism immersion program, where visitors are allowed to walk through berry gardens, to learn about the production process and pick their own berries for a fee.
More than 600 Benguet farmers produce as much as 50 metric tons of strawberries a hectare. Gardens spanning 481 hectares grow strawberries here and in other Benguet towns.
Despite Lawin’s onslaught, salad vegetables grown here would be available come Christmas, said Bentres.
Food production in Benguet is not synchronized, which helps ensure a continuous supply. “Unlike in the lowlands where rice and corn are planted at the same time and are in the same development stage when a typhoon strikes, Benguet farmers do not plant at the same time. So when a typhoon hits us, our crops would be in different development stages,” Bentres said.
Lawin destroyed P311.7 million worth of rice and vegetables and agriculture facilities in Benguet, according to the provincial agriculture office. Among the most affected crops are potatoes, beans and cabbages.
Benguet Gov. Crescencio Pacalso said flower supplies are sufficient for Christmas, the Baguio Flower Festival and Valentine’s Day in February.
“Our farmers have weathered so many typhoons and already know what to do,” Bentres said. —KIMBERLIE QUITASOL
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