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P13.9M Sweetpotato Production, Livelihood Program Undertaken in Tarlac, Albay

Sweetpotato would taste sweeter for farmers in the provinces of Tarlac and Albay

That’s because a P13.9 million sweetpotato production and livelihood program is being undertaken to enhance its potential as a cash crop in these calamity-prone provinces where many sweetpotato farms are located.

Called “Enhancing Research Utilization for Sweetpotato Livelihood Development in Disaster-Prone Communities,” this, is a program of the Philippine Root Crop Research and Training Center (PhilRootcrops) and the Philippine Council forAgriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD).

PhilRootcrops director and program head Dr. Julieta R. Roa said that although sweetpotato production is a good livelihood, breakthroughs on this are hardly utilized in poor farming communities. The reasons, she adds, are lack of access to high-yielding varieties, inadequate supply of high-quality planting materials, pest and diseases, and low soil fertility. Weak link to technology sources and markets is also a problem.

Roa is optimistic that the program would be the solution to these. Through the program, she said, poor farmers in lahar-laden Tarlac and typhoon-prone Albay would have access to technologies and business opportunities. They would be given tissue culture-generated planting materials, training on propagation and
processing, and assistance in marketing.

As of press time, 280,000 cuttings of sweetpotato 17, 25, 30, and VSP 6 varieties from PhilRootcrops are being planted in target farm communities in Albay. Also, researchers from the Institute of Plant Breeding in the University of the Philippine Los Banos are already conducting disease mapping in
Albay and Tarlac.

By Jesus Freddy M. Baldos