Feature: Organic potato production potential for global competitiveness
by SC Aro
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet (28 September) -- A good niche market for potatoes is through organic production where its demand is growing fast in many countries.
Centro Internationale de la Patata – East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific (CIP-ESEAP) Regional Leader Fernando Ezeta, who visited potato farms in Benguet, said developed countries demand for organic potatoes which is an avenue to overcome competition in the global market.
Ezeta said the marketing of organic potatoes will only be possible should there be a good certification system of the province that would declare the authenticity of the product as organic.
The seasonality according to Ezeta is also one of the advantages of the province as the crop can be grown in multiple cropping season which can be used as market window of opportunity in the Asian region.
Ezeta appreciated the very good technological knowledge level of farmers due to their access to technical assistance and training from the Northern Philippine Root Crops Research and Training Center of the Benguet State University which he said is a privilege as not all have direct access to such.
But there is still a need for better technology in order to have better varieties, stability of yield considering that there are factors that affect crop production such as climate changes, presence of pesticides and demand in the market he added.
Due to dynamic changes, research should be continuous in coming up with new technologies according to Ezeta. It is important that research institutions at the national and international level are constantly innovative in developing new technologies.
In addition, Ezeta said competitiveness has an economic connotation. It does not only consider the quantity of production but the key factor is the lower cost of production per unit area. He said the concept of competitiveness goes beyond technology which may be due to some external factors such as access to good roads, market, credit and different services. But he is not discounting the fact that technology can make products more competitive.
Another factor equated to competitiveness is government subsidy which according to Ezeta is an intervention to producers in other countries. But subsidy is more of a decision of the central government, he quipped.
As there is no government subsidy for any agricultural production in the country, the cost of production is relatively high compared to other countries which cannot compete globally. The cost of production includes inputs such as utilization of energy, pesticides and machineries.
Cost reduction according to Ezeta is to cut down losses which could be addressed through the introduction of varieties resistant to pests and diseases, adverse climatic conditions, resources reduction, and good agronomic practices among others.
Benguet State University President Rogelio Colting said CIP-ESEAP, which has centers all over the world, is a partner of BSU in international research in the '80s and has come to revisit its partnership not only in the country but with Southeast Asia. (PIA-Benguet) [top]