Natubleng, Buguias, Benguet- Potato farmers in the Cordillera stand to benefit from the variety trials being done by the Manpat-a Farmers’ Association in Balili, Mankayan and Seeds and Fruits Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SFMPC) in Natubleng, Buguias. Under the Potato Industry Development Program of the DA-CAR, the High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) partnered with the Prince Edward Island Potato Board and the Embassy of Canada to introduce eight new varieties with potential in the Cordillera highlands.

DA-CAR OIC-Regional Executive Director Cameron P. Odsey said that the project would be an avenue for the farmers to select varieties that would be appropriate to reproduce. He added that the DA is exploring the possibility of farmers producing their own seeds depending on whether it would be cheaper to produce seeds locally than to import them.

Farmer-cooperators received the seedlings in February this year to test these for performance under local conditions, and on June 26, members of the SFMPC harvested their first crops. Conio Copas, 45 years old, member of the Cooperative said that the new varieties yielded more than the traditional varieties they planted. Echoing the observation, SFMPC manager Ardan Copas declared the trial a success. “Our fellow farmers can adapt these varieties especially that they can now earn more money and recover previous losses,” he said.

HVCDP Coordinator Joan Bacbac said that the DA-CAR partnered with the farmer cooperators to do on-farm research and gather data on the new varieties. She added that the varieties will be planted in a second trial later this year where the farmers will do further research on the characteristics of these varieties.

Dir. Odsey stressed, “Potato will be a general commodity that we will continue to support in the Department of Agriculture because it is one of the commodities that many of our highland farmers earned money from and this type of trial will be part of that support to our farmers.”//