PGMA's road project to boost 'Yacon' production among NVizcaya farmers
by Ben Moses Ebreo
Dupax Del Norte, Nueva Vizcaya (5 June) -- 'Yacon', the medicinal rootcrop and this town's One-Town-One –Product(OTOP) resource became the major source of income among upland farmers in 1990s.
But its supply has dwindled lately due huge capital losses among upland farmers brought by unregulated supply and demand. From more than 60, farmers went down to only 16 at present.
"We are again in the process of promoting it among our farmers and even prospective outlets outside our province," said Mayor Tony Palugod.
He said farmers, mostly indigenous people have returned to vegetable farming as their alternative source of income after they were discouraged due to the failure of several unscrupulous traders in remitting their payments.
Palugod however expressed optimism on the renewed revitalization of the 'Yacon' industry in this town due to the on-going construction of the 18.6 kilometer Bitnung-Belance road project of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
An initial 5.22 kilometer portion has already been completed with an initial allocation of P130 million. Another P200 million will be needed more to complete the remaining 13.382 kilometers.
The road development project was committed by Arroyo to bishop Ramon Villena of the diocese of Bayombong and Quirino as her birthday gift during her visit to barangay Belance in March 2007.
"With the start of the road project, we can see already that our farmers are coming back to develop their farmlots for 'Yacon' production. In fact, there are other migrants who are now settling in Belance and its neighboring villages," Palugod said.
He said, the Bitnung-Belance road has been closed from time to time in the previous years due to landslides and erosions, prompting 'Yacon' farmers to jack up their prices.
Palugod said that based on their promotional efforts in Lagun and some parts of Metro Manila, the demand of 'Yacon' has become attractive and a challenge for them.
Aside from being eaten as raw, 'Yacon' can be processed into wine, tea and noodles among others.
From June onwards each year, farmers start to plant the rootcrop because of the rainy season which makes it larger due to sufficient water supply.
The product comes from the upland farmers of barangays Oyao, Macabenga, Belance, Bunuangan and Yabbi.
During its peak season, 'Yacon' is sold at P20.00 to P30.00 a kilo while it is being offered at P60.00 a kilo and above during lean months.
Palugod said there is a need to organize the 'Yacon' farmers so that they can be properly guided when it comes to selling their products at a prevailing and affordable price.
"They were fooled to a very low cost by buyers and we do not want this experience to be repeated again," he said.
Despite the dwindling supply, Palugod said 'Yacon' still serves as their OTOP. In fact, Dupax del Norte town celebrates their town fiesta through the yearly 'Yacon' festival. (PIA) [top]