TO improve the calamansi industry in Oriental Mindoro, the largest producer of calamansi in the country, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) has embarked on a new project in collaboration with several partners and funding from the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research.
It was during a seminar covened by SEARCA on February 12 with horticulture experts from the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) when approaches were developed for the scoping activity and baseline studies of the new project titled "Upgrading the Calamansi Value Chain towards Improving the Calamansi Industry of Oriental Mindoro."
The project aims to address the technical and market constraints that confront the calamansi industry along the value chain, and bring together the strengths of research institutions in collaboration with local government units (LGUs) and other calamansi stakeholders in Oriental Mindoro.
SEARCA's partners in the project are UPLB, Tokyo University of Agriculture, Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology (MinSCAT), and the provincial and municipal governments of Oriental Mindoro. The Victoria Kalamansi Farmers Federation is the project's partner-beneficiary.
During the seminar, horticulture experts, including Calixto Protacio and Domingo Angeles, both full professors at the Institute of Crop Science of the UPLB College of Agriculture and Food Science, also discussed the status and prospects of the calamansi industry in Oriental Mindoro.
Protacio presented the "Analysis of Calamansi Production Practices in Oriental Mindoro," while Angeles talked about the "Calamansi Sub-sector Industry Situationer, Challenges, Programs, and Research, Development and Extension Needs."
Protacio said that based on his 2017 to 2018 study that covered calamansi farms in the towns of Calapan, Naujan, Victoria, Socorro and Pola, only those farms with access to water year-round were able to achieve off-season production.
His study also showed that "low fertilization input towards production invariably resulted in low production and income."
In addition to Protacio's report, Angeles noted that other constraints in calamansi production in Oriental Mindoro included lack of supply of quality planting materials, low prices during the peak season, lack of access to service providers, and poor farm-to-market roads.
Meanwhile, Jose Medina, overall project coordinator of Piloting and Upscaling Effective Models of Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (PUEM-Isard), also shared lessons and experiences in said the Isard project that started in 2015.
PUEM-Isard is a collaborative action research of SEARCA, MinSCAT and the LGUs of Oriental Mindoro.
Medina stressed the importance of investing on Mindoro farmers, directing new paths of partnership, life-long learning for family, incorporating start-up funds, institutionalizing group savings and lending system, and creating a knowledge management center for calamansi farmers.
Christine Pine, Oriental Mindoro provincial agriculturist, also shared from the perspective of the local community the vision for the calamansi industry in the province.
Pine said there was a need to increase year-round production of high-quality fresh calamansi fruits, increase farmers' income, increase adaptive capacity of calamansi farmers to climate change, develop and sustain new local and export markets, and establish a functional industry cluster that complements the agriculture and food industry sectors.