LEGAZPI CITY: The Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP) through its Investments in Rural Enterprises and Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity (I-REAP) component is helping Albay develop its sweet potato (kamote) industry into a priority rural enterprise.
“We are now having our initial business planning for the crop following our conduct of enterprise identification and prioritization which determined the suitability, market potential, impact on the poor and rural women’s participation in the province,” Albay I-REAP head Rafael Nicoleta on Thursday said in this provincial capital.
He said the plan emphasizes climate-smart agriculture as a way to achieve short- and long-term agricultural development priorities in the face of climate change and serves as a bridge to other development priorities.
Data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics show that the province, with its 1,675 hectares of effective area for sweet potato production, produces an average of 40,167 metric tons yearly.
According to Rocelyn De Vera of the PRDP South Luzon Project Support Office, sweet potato is a unique commodity because unlike other plants, it is less prone to diseases, drought-resistant and grows with minimal use of fertilizer.
Nonetheless, she said, Albay farmers must learn to explore other products from the crop and take the industry to the next level with the help of other stakeholders, including government agencies, to support its value chain in the province.
There are also recommendations that include the revitalization and strengthening existing nurseries, constructing warehouse near island port, providing access or linkage to funding agencies, intensifying Farmer Business School and training on good agricultural practices, De Vera said.
Provision of farm, processing, and packaging equipment as well as construction and rehabilitation of farm-to-market roads, ports, and bridges were also proposed in addition to a call for an updated research and development agenda on sweet potato and market study involving new products.