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The Department of Agriculture (DA) held the 1st Luzon Potato Summit on April 18-19, 2018 at Gestdan Centrum, Baguio City in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). The region is a major and number 1 producer of potato in the country.

Potato farmers, LGU and DA Staff from regions II, III and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) were the participants of the summit.

It was organized by the DA’s High Value Crops and Rural Credit in coordination with the DA-Regional Field Office – CAR to provide farmers, LGU and other stakeholders a comprehensive analysis of the Philippine Potato Industry.

According to Teresita Masangkay of Benguet State University Northern Philippines Root Crops Research and Training Center (BSU-NPRCRTC), “CAR is the oldest growing potato producer in the country, particularly in the province of Benguet, Mountain Province and Ifugao. The provinces of Abra, Kalinga and Apayao are the potential production expansion areas. Production expansion is also possible in the neighbouring regions of CAR like Ilocos Region, Central Luzon and Cagayan Region that had been producing potatoes in the 1990’s using the Raniag and Granola varieties.”

As a reminder, USec. Evelyn G. Laviña stressed that the farmers, LGU and DA should work together to be able to see what can be done to address issues that may arise on the potato industry. Thus, the presence of each stakeholders of the industry in the activity.

DA-RFO-CAR Regional Executive Director Narciso Edillo pointed out the common problems of potato producers which includes lack of source of good quality planting materials, issues on marketing and lack of resources for processing. These problems can be addressed if the farmers will be organized into a group or if possible into an organization to be able to come up with a strategic plan, he added.

The issues and concerns raised by the farmers will be validated to come up with the needs of the potato industry, supplemented USec. Laviña. In addition, she also said that the organizations should come up with a collaborative plan on how they will increase their production and be able to have higher income.

The summit includes numerous informative presentations from experts involved in the potato industry, agriculture, credit programs and academe who discussed the latest research and issues concerning potatoes.

Hands-on on Potato Production

The second day of the summit served as a venue for the potato farmers to visit the Northern Philippines Root Crops Research and Training Center at Benguet State University (BSU-NPRCRTC).

There were 5 stations that was prepared by the BSU-NPRCRTC for the participants.

Station 1 was about Tissue culture. The process on how to produce quality plant material through tissue culture was explained and the different stages of plant growth at the tissue culture laboratory were viewed.

Station 2 was on potato seed production under protected cultivation from Rapid Multiplication Technique (RMT), tuber production and postharvest care of seed tubers.

Station 3 is where soil media sterilization and preparation was explained. Participants were also given chance to peek on the diffuse light storage. Different potato varieties and their characteristics were also discussed in this station.

On the 4th station, participants experienced planting rooted stem cuttings and tubers on the 5th station.// Karen T. Gawigawen