Elevated strawberry bed; a Japanese technology

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LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Strawberry has been synonymous with this capital town a home to the luscious strawberry fruit which draw many domestic and international tourists; hence it is tagged as the “Strawberry Capital of the Philippines”.  In 2004 during the Strawberry Festival, La Trinidad was recognized by the “Guinness Book of Record for baking the biggest strawberry shortcake in the world”. The significance of strawberry production in the economy and tourism attraction of La Trinidad being the country’s major producer of strawberry, has 74 hectares devoted to strawberry production of 550 farmers engaged  and  maintaining the average area of 1,300 sq. meters each. The total average annual production of 1,480 metric tons goes to local processors, Betag satellite market, Baguio City, Manila and Visayas (Agriculture Magazine, June 2010).

Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) is an approach to reduce the risk of contamination during on- farm production and post- production processes. Thus, it addresses Environmental protection and Management, Food Safety, People’s Health, Welfare and Product Quality.  GAP in the Philippines emerged as a response of the government in meeting the demand of the customers for safe and healthy food and non-food agricultural products. It aims to meet the needs of consumer that are high quality products, safe and produced in an environmentally and socially responsible way.

Due to a continuous conversion of agricultural land to residential and commercial establishments, it indicates a movement towards development and urbanization. Thus, the area for strawberry production in La Trinidad has been reduced. In short, the adoption of new technologies in growing quality, safe and delicious strawberries supports the strawberry industry. A project entitled strawberry production at elevated bed: A Japan Technology that is a joint project by the local government unit of La Trinidad, the Farmers Cooperatives, and Japan Agriculture Exchange Council (JAEC) located at Sitio Toyong, Pico, La Trinidad headed by Ms.  Jumelyn P. Buya.

The ultimate vision of the project is to provide quality, safe and delicious strawberry fruits for the whole year round to the consumers. Correspondingly it aims to be an Agricultural learning and attraction sight. The local government of La Trinidad under the leadership of Mayor Edna C. Tabanda has been encouraging the strawberry growers to enhance their competitiveness and sustainability.

Furthermore, the different line agencies like Benguet State University (BSU), the Center of Excellence and Development on the Academe Sector, the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit-Cordillera Administrative Region (DA-RFU-CAR), and local government of La Trinidad have been working together to improve the local industry. On the other hand, Strawberry farmers benefits from the production of clean planting materials through tissue culture which is being undertaken by the BSU in partnership with the DA-RFU-CAR since 2006. Now, it has been turned over to the Provincial Local Government Unit (PLGU) Benguet and LGU La Trinidad through the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist headed by Ms. Felicitas D. Ticbaen.

The strawberry production was prepared under greenhouse at elevated bench to control temperature, water and other conditions aiming to produce higher quality strawberries. The Materials used are coco- peat as a soil/media (washed with fresh water) to fill the cultivated benches and the Electric water pump as a source of water supply. Any kind of irrigation may be used. Since a potted seedling is recommended, it was used while a proper care and knowledge on GAP was and is being adopted. Thus, cleaning and land preparation entails lesser time and having a quality and higher production. The Farmers took a bold step in adopting this technology not only for family but for a replicable continuous income generating project that can be passed on to the next generation.

Presently, two farmers have seen the potential of the project and have embraced the technology with sincerity and commitment and started in 2011 and the latter 2014. Later to know that both farmers were trained in Japan related on the advancement of the technology. As they pursue, the two farmers wanted to share the goodness of the technology and believes to level up the common way and adopting the innovation in managing or planting strawberry. This fact comes in addition to three more farmers on deck, waiting for their turn to learn the ropes. In this way, it supports the La Trinidad tourism on its one town one product.

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