A multi-sector project in the municipality of Victoria, Oriental Mindoro hopes to revitalize the declining calamansi industry in the town once tagged as the “Fruit Basket of Oriental Mindoro,” after the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the municipal government of Victoria, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology (MinSCAT).
Region 4-B is the main source of calamansi in the Philippines, with the region producing about 58 percent of the country’s supply, according to Bureau of Agriculture Statistics (BAS) data. Of the region’s output, nearly 99 percent is produced by Oriental Mindoro alone, with Victoria accounting for 58 percent of the province’s annual harvest.
In 2012, Victoria reached peak production at 7,325.5 metric tons, or 58.58 percent of the total production in the province, and was reported to have the highest average yield among the province’s 14 towns, at 13.1 metric tons per hectare, according to information from the Oriental Mindoro Provincial Agriculture Office.
However, that peak has been followed by a steady decline in production, with the number of hectares of calamansi plantation shrinking by nearly two-thirds, from 2,105 hectares to 884 hectares, data from the municipal agriculture office indicated.
Mayor Alfredo Ortega Jr. of Victoria town said that owing to a lack of appropriate institutional and marketing arrangements as well as value adding activities for calamansi, the industry faced an oversupply and surplus of fresh produce during peak production periods which, in turn, resulted in heavy post-harvest losses, lower prices, and smaller income received by the farmers.
As a result, many calamansi farmers opted to shift to other commodities and veered away from maintaining their calamansi farms.
Entitled “Revitalizing the Calamansi Industry in Victoria,” the planned project is in line with Piloting and Upscaling Effective Modes of Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (ISARD) program spearheaded by the SEARCA Research and Development Department.
The MOA signing was headed by Ortega, who was joined by MinSCAT Vice President for Research, Extension and Development Ma. Concepcion Mores and SEARCA Director Gil Saguiguit Jr.
To be implemented for a period of three years, the pilot project aims to enhance the capacity of calamansi farmers in Victoria, MinSCAT, and the municipal government in effective agricultural systems that demonstrate increased benefit for the poor and vulnerable groups through an integrated ground-level development intervention, including improved planning and market access for calamansi farmers.
During the signing of MOA, Saguiguit highlighted SEARCA’s mandate to promote agricultural and rural development (ARD) in the Southeast Asian region; the focal theme of the Center’s current five year plan, which is inclusive and sustainable ARD; and how the Mindoro project fits well into SEARCA’s mandate and thrusts. He also underscored the value of partnerships and the Center’s growing ties with SCUs and LGUs in furtherance of common development goals and objectives and enjoined everyone’s cooperation to ensure that the project will successfully contribute to ISARD in the target communities in Mindoro.
In a statement, MinSCAT said it looks forward to its involvement and contribution to the project in terms of providing technological assistance in coordination with other relevant agencies such as the Department of Science and Technology.
Members of the project steering committee include the regional offices of the Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Training Institute, Department of Trade and Industry, the National Economic and Development Authority and the stakeholders from the Upland Farmers Association of Victoria.