Benguet Municipal Agriculture Officers (MAOs) assured that frost brings only minimal damages to vegetables as temperature drops this cold season.

Consolidated reports from the MAOs of three municipalities with frost prone areas such as Atok, Buguias and Mankayan say that occurrence of frost in the locality are true but as to vegetable damages, it is very minimal. This assures that vegetable supply is not affected despite occurrence of frosts.

Rudy Daculan, MAO of Mankayan said that frosts occurred in the last week of January particularly in sitio Cada and Am-am, Balili, Mankayan. It was experienced in the same frost prone areas for the previous years. As to vegetable damages, some farmers claim that those affected by the frosts are few potatoes in their vegetative stages mostly along the creeks. Most of the farmers in the area are preparing their lands for the next cropping season.

Farmer representatives also claim that frosts affected potatoes at their harvestable stage and caused no real damage. 

Delfin Rufino, MAO of Buguias also claims that there are no frostbite damages to crops, livestock and fisheries amidst the cold spell being experienced in the municipality.

In the municipality of Atok, Cherry Sano, Municipal Agriculture Officer said that frost occurrence this year are isolated which started to be experienced in the low lying areas near creeks, specifically in Englandad, Paoay, Atok, Benguet. It was only in January 28 when the frosts are thicker and wider in scope. Also, the frost appears a little later now compared to the previous years that frosts are being experienced as early as November.

Moreover, frost is almost a yearly phenomenon so this is not new to the farmers. Some farmers even claim that frosts over the past years are thicker and covers wider area compared to today’s occurrence but it did not create such a big fuss in the country. Why worry now when the farmers are more experienced in managing this issue and assistance are being given.

 “We monitored and validated the reported damages and we found out that frost damages were very minimal and insignificant as far as supply of vegetable is concerned. In about 1 hectare of plantation, frost covers not more than 100 sq.m. Only few flowers along the creek areas and tips of some leafy vegetables were slightly affected but are now recovering. No evident damaged was observed,” Sano added.

In a field visit conducted by the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office Cordillera (DA-RFO-CAR) in Paoay, Atok, on Janaury 31, most of the vegetables are harvested, some are ready for harvest, and some are on its early vegetative stage whereby the plant can still recover as it grows. Some farmers are already preparing the land for the next cropping season.

Most of the leafy vegetables are in their early vegetative stage. Leafy vegetables that can be harvested are the ones prone to frost damages. Root vegetables such as radish and carrots are much tolerant to frost while potatoes on its vegetative stage are more susceptible.

“Timing is very crucial during this frost seasons,” said Randy Tomas, one of the farmers preparing his land area when the monitoring team reached the area. He decided to plant potatoes on March when the weather is warmer since potatoes are very susceptible to frost.

Other preventive measures stated by the farmers to lessen the effect of frost is sprinkling the crops before the sunlight hits. Sprinklers and power pumps are on standby specially this season of frost.

In the previous years, DA through the Cordillera regional office has been providing assistance to the farmers in mitigating frost effects in the area such as the check dam or small water impounding dam that is being used as water reservoir in Paoay, Atok. Aside from that, there were also power sprayers, hoses and drums, knap sack sprayers and rain shelters given to the farmers.

Eleanor Camut, Agriculturist II of the DA-RFO-CAR under the High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) said that this 2019, the agency allocated support to frost prone areas such as solar irrigation and spring development projects, water pumps, pressurized irrigation system from open source (PISOS) green houses and rain shelters.//RDibdiben