Chayote groomed as PHL champion crop


BAGUI CITY – Chayote, which has been known in the Cordilleras with little commercial value as it used to be part of the food for pigs, can now become a champion crop of the Philippines because of its bright potentials in the international market, particularly in Dhubai, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said here.

Alcala said during his recent visit in Dhubai, he was able to see in the market chayote which is being sold in convincing retail prices that prompted him to order a study on the international demand of the crop which will be part of the contribution of the Cordillera to the country’s quest for food security and export quality crops.

“We want to make sure of the demand so that we will be able to require local chayote growers to sustain the supply for the international market,” Alcala stressed.

Chayote is one of the major vegetables being produced in the different parts of the Cordillera with an average annual volume of close to 80,000 tons annually but it could drastically increase once the agriculture department will promote it as one of the country’s champion crops aside from coconut, rice and corn.

Alcala said chayote could be locally processed as meat extender in order to increase its shelf life aside from fresh chayote being shipped to countries interested to import the crop for various purposes.

Chayote is originally native to Mexico where it grows abundantly and has little commercial value. It has been introduced as a crop all over Latin America, and worldwide.

Alcala cited locally grown chayote is much crispier, juicer and tastier compared to the giant chayote produced in other countries, thus, foreigners prefer to eat the local varieties considering its ability to be used as extender among other purposes.

He cited the agriculture department will be providing hundreds of local chayote farmers with the necessary trainings on how to mass produce the crop, process chayote as extender and package the same for export to interested countries in the Asia-Pacific region and Middle East.

Secretary Alcala claimed the introduction of chayote as one of the country’s champion crops will significantly contribute in the increase of chayote plantations regionwide and will encourage farmers to propagate the crop even in barren mountains that will contribute in efforts to preserve and protect the deteriorating state of the environment in the region.

Benguet Gov. Nestor B. Fongwan welcomed the pronouncement of |Secretary Alcala relative to the promotion of chayote as a champion crop of the agriculture department, saying that highland vegetables produced in Benguet can directly compete with similar ones from other countries but the only difference is the packaging, processing and value added for local agricultural crops.

“We are happy that agriculture officials were able to see the golden opportunity for chayote to shine in the international market so that more farmers will be encouraged to propagate the crop and earn a descent income from its sale overseas,” Fongwan said.

He appealed to local farmers to organize themselves into cooperatives or associations so that they will have a stronger bargaining power with international buyers and not for them to do the usual single approach which will not be helpful in advancing their interest as a group of local farmers. By Dexter A. See