Vegetable project to help Marawi recovery

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ENTREPRENEURSHIP advocacy group Go Negosyo has set up a pilot vegetable growing project in the province of Lanao del Sur to provide sustainable livelihood to residents affected by the Marawi siege last year.

The signing ceremony was attended by representatives of the province, hybrid rice firm SL Agritech and Go Negosyo on Tuesday.

SL Agritech Chairman Henry Lim Bon Liong said the company currently maintains a 50-hectare area solely for planting two hybrid rice varieties to increase the yield of 50 farmers in the municipality of Bubong, near Marawi City, adding that areas can also be identified for vegetable farming.

The rice demonstration farm is expected to boost yields to between 7 metric tons (MT) and 14 MT per hectare (ha) from the current yield of 3 MT to 3.5 MT.

“Lanao [del Sur] can serve as the major rice granary in Mindanao, and since it’s the summer capital of Mindanao, it’s very conducive also for planting vegetables also,” Mr. Lim added.

The hybrid rice project could be expanded to 1,000 ha by the next planting season, with local officials saying that with suitable irrigation some of the area could be set aside for vegetables.

Provincial agriculturist Mohamadali D. Macaraya said the model is the highland regions around Baguio City, which grows vegetables for much of Luzon.

“If Baguio supplies vegetables to Metro Manila, why not have Marawi or Lanao del Sur supply major vegetables to the cities in Mindanao and nearby provinces like Cebu?,” he said.

Mr. Macaraya said a harvest festival is scheduled for Feb. 22, adding that some components need to be firmed up before the plan can go forward, including livelihood programs, irrigation and the resolution of the housing crisis among those displaced by the Marawi conflict. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato