LOS BAÑOS, Laguna: The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) has forged partnerships with educational institutions and local government units (LGUs) to address gaps in the calamansi value chain in Oriental Mindoro through technology adoption, utilization or commercialization, and marketing.
SEARCA said that with the potential of calamansi and the need to revitalize the industry, it has collaborated with the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology (MinSCAT), Tokyo University of Agriculture (Tokyo NODAI), and the LGUs of Oriental Mindoro.
With the largest production areas found in Victoria, Oriental Mindoro, calamansi — one of the integral components of Filipino cuisine with its taste described as "earthy" and "refreshing" — is indigenous to the Philippines and widely cultivated.
The Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rural Development Program (DA-PRDP) said buyers prefer calamansi from Oriental Mindoro because it has a thicker rind, stronger taste, longer shelf life and resists weight loss.
However, SEARCA said there are gaps and constraints in the calamansi industry that limit its potential to increase income and generate the much-needed employment for residents in the calamansi growing communities in the province of Oriental Mindoro.
Some of the constraints include the lack of supply of good quality calamansi seedlings, high incidence of pests and diseases, declining volume of production, and huge post-harvest losses. SEARCA also said there is limited access to markets, inconsistent quality of processed calamansi products, low prices during peak season, and lack of resources, skills, knowledge, and experience in collective marketing among calamansi farmers.
However, SEARCA said that as a result of its partnerships with UPLB, MinSCAT, Tokyo NODAI and LGUs, a project called "Upgrading the Calamansi Value Chain towards Improving the Calamansi Industry of Oriental Mindoro" of the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) was approved and funded. It will be implemented for two years.
"The project aims to address the technical and market constraints confronting the calamansi industry in Victoria town in Oriental Mindoro along the value chain," SEARCA said in a statement.
"The project specifically sets out to improve calamansi production and fruit quality by utilizing proven technologies and practices in integrated pest management, fertilization, off-season fruiting, and post-harvest handling practices; and support the commercialization of calamansi-based products through value chain analysis of processed products, market study and product enhancement," it added.
It will also strengthen capacities of calamansi stakeholders on the improved production and post-harvest handling practices, calamansi processing, and entrepreneurship; and promote faculty and student exchange for research and development and technology promotion/transfer undertakings.
SEARCA said the project takes off from the gains of the its program "Piloting and Upscaling Effective Models" under the Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development in the pilot site in Victoria town.
Recently, Tokyo NODAI also began conducting experiments at the project site to validate the effects of off-season production technologies suitable to the growing conditions of calamansi in Victoria.