By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The two-year potato project of snacks and beverage giant Universal Robina Corporation (URC) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) has yielded its first harvest, doubling the yield of potato farmers in Cordillera region.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said potato farmers from the Cordillera Region have already doubled their yield, earning about P600,000 per hectare in the span of 100 days, by using modern potato seeds from Prince Edward Island in Canada.
The seeds were imported by URC as part of its joint potato development program with DA, which started two years ago.
Under the agreement, URC will buy medium size potatoes from farmers. URC, through its sister corporation Robinson’s Supermarket, also said they are willing to buy the high-value crop from the farmers.
The Gokongwei-led firm also volunteered to bring in over 100 metric tons (MT) of G-3 potato planting materials from Prince Edward Island in Canada.
The seeds arrived in the Philippines in March this year and were distributed to farmers in three areas, namely Buguias in Benguet Province, Talakag in Bukidnon, and Kapatagan in Davao del Sur.
“The aim of this program is to improve the productivity of potato farmers by introducing new high yielding varieties. This project illustrates how long it would take to institute reforms and improvements in the agriculture sector. And this is just potatoes,” Piñol said.
“People who expect Philippine agriculture, neglected and wanting of government support for decades, to improve overnight should realize that there is no magic or secret formula,” he added.
The next program of the URC and DA partnership will be the importation of chipping potatoes variety planting materials so that URC does not have to rely on imported potatoes for their potato chips production.