Various farming associations in Palawan have received some P12 million worth of farming machinery for off-season farming of vegetables as one of the three pilot provinces in the country.
Dir. Gerald Glenn Panganiban, program director of the National Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture and High-Value Crops Initiative, said Palawan was chosen because of its resilience to climate change and its potential to be a food basket in the future.
The budget was allocated to Palawan after local officials learned about farmers’ need for machinery in vegetable production during the Usapang Palawan Summit in 2022.
“Nakikita natin yong klima at of course ang farmers natin ay masisipag—nowadays, climate change ay nandyan, sabi nga binabaha na tayo minsan tag-init but with the new technology and varieties to be planted, nakikita natin Palawan could be the next food basket maybe,” he said.
As an island province, Palawan could have food security within its borders, he added.
Palawan, Bukidnon, and Iloilo are the three provinces that will get help from the department to grow vegetables when it’s not their season.
“Bakit ang Palawan? Madaling mag-adapt sabi ni director Glenn and the same time, hindi masyadong bagyuhin, daanan at calamity-wise, wala rin tayong earthquake. Hopefully, ay wag na rin dahil binabagyo na tayo kahit papaano— pero kaya naman natin mag-cope,” regional executive director Engr. Maria Christine Inting explained.
The pandemic also brought the realization of the need for its food supply due to experienced restrictions in delivering food supply and agricultural products, Panganiban added.
“Ang gusto natin, it’s either you produce locally or you produce close to the population center,” he said.
As Palawan’s economy slowly starts to open up to tourists, it also needs to make sure it has enough food.
“Marami kayong mouth ifi-feed from the outside, we have to be resilient and food secure dito sa probinsya,” he added.
The machinery and farm input given were 16 units of multi-tiller/cultivator, five sets of biomass shredders with tea brewer, assorted vegetable seeds, 1,380 pieces of plastic crates, 14 rolls of UV films, 200 rolls of plastic mulch, 300 bags of fortified organic fertilizer, 1,000 L of organic foliar fertilizer, and 497 packs of organic foliar plant growth enhancer.
Romeo Palao, the focal person of the high-value crops development program (HVCDP) in Palawan, said that the province is also working on cultivating vegetables to fill the need for local demand.
“Pwedeng madouble or triple ito, very important don, during off-season na hindi sila nakakapagtanim dahil sa availability ng mga intervention na ito, ngayon ay makaka-augment o maka-support sa pangangailangan ng mga taga-Puerto Princesa at Palawan,” Palao said.
For farmers like Nora Vallega of Taytay, the interventions would help them improve their production even during the rainy season. Machinery will also help save the time of farmers in the field. Vallega is the president of the Taytay Vegetable Grower Association, which has 48 members from the community.
“Maganda kasi pag nagharvest kami ay pwede namin mapaglagyan pati kung magdideliver kami kasi magaan. Kasi sa totoo lang, hindi kagandahan na maglalagay ng produkto sa isang lalagyan na sobrang dami kasi nabubugbog ang mga gulay,” she said.