BAGUIO CITY (Feb. 6) —Will the Chinese year of the earth rat be good for the Cordillera farmers who are greatly affected by problems facing the vegetable industry?
A Chinese-Filipino in this city said the Chinese Filipinos may help in the revival of the vegetable industry by bringing Cordillera farmers to China to learn modern farming technologies in the said country.
We can serve as a bridge to China. We can initiate talks with our (Cordillera) farmers and help in the exchange with China where they can learn modern farming technologies,” said Dr. Charles Cheng in a forum opening the celebration of the Chinese New Year in the city.
Imported Chinese vegetables are bigger, greener, well packed and prepared, and cheaper, added Cheng, a member of the Association for Philippine-China Understanding in the city.
He added that vegetable farmers in China do not use fertilizers, chicken manure and other inputs yet their harvests are competitive.
We want to know their secret. We want our farmers to learn these technologies,” pointed Cheng with local media here.
Cheng said that with Gov. Nestor Fongwan, who is of Chinese descent, he hopes that the governor would help launch the program to help the Cordillera farmers.
History of vegetable industry
The vegetable industry in the region started during the Spanish colonial period, continued in the early 1900s by the Americans to produce their vegetable needs and to save from the costly importation from their country, according to Fernando Bagyan from Apit-Tako, an alliance of farmers’ organizations in the region.
Bagyan added that the industry was developed by the Chinese afterwards. It became a profitable business in the region supplying most of the countries temperate vegetable needs.
However, particularly in Benguet, farmers have become so dependent on agro-chemical inputs which destroyed the natural fertility of vegetable farms, various studies, including Apit-Tako, revealed.
Bagyan welcomes the move of Cheng’s organization as among the efforts to save the vegetable industry.
Chinese technologies on farming are advance. But even in the Cordillera, farmers have technologies which are considered sustainable and environment friendly. These practices can be developed if supported by the government and not only left to farmers to improve,” Bagyan pointed out.
Bagyan added that farmers in the remote villages in Benguet and in the region practice sustainable farming by using locally available resources and appropriate technologies. # Arthur L. Allad-iw for NORDIS