PG explores cactus production in addition to vegetables
A farmers’ cooperative in Gusaran, Kabayan, Benguet is exploring cactus and succulent production as an alternate and added source of income apart from vegetables amidst disruptions caused by COVID-19 health crisis.
The Gusaran Multi-purpose Cooperative (GMPC) is a Proponent Group (PG) of a micro-enterprise subproject implemented under the Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP).
Under the Project’s I-REAP or enterprise development component, the GMPC received materials for the establishment and/ rehabilitation of greenhouse structures.
Since quarantine restrictions were imposed due to the COVID-19 health crisis, some farmers are having difficulties in sustaining their vegetable production due to low prices of vegetable commodities and limited mobility, among others.
Virgilio Ameda, member of GMPC recalled that most of the farmer-members produced carrots before the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) last March. The lockdowns imposed during the crises, resulted in a situation where most of the farmers they incurred grave losses. The transport of vegetables were hampered and the market price for carrots has gone down.
Rudy Kingay, Chairperson of GMPC Board of Directors further said that the materials they received are not enough to establish a greenhouse structure fit for vegetable production and not all members of the cooperative are financially capable of buying additional materials to be able to put up their greenhouses.
“We received the first tranche of greenhouse materials last year and the rest of the materials early this year. But some of the members were not able to put up their greenhouses fit for vegetable production but were able to establish mini greenhouses (10x10ft) on their backyards intended for cactus production,” he said.
Kingay added that the weather condition in Kabayan in the months of March-September is usually hot hence, vegetables won’t grow well inside the greenhouse.
The demand for cactus crops is increasing and the price is relatively high. Several members of the cooperative started producing cacti and succulents in addition to vegetable production.
According to Rosalina Ebas, GMPC General Manager, “some of the recipients were able to put up greenhouse structures for both vegetable and cactus production. However, since the materials are not enough, they bought additional materials while most recipients opted to put up small greenhouse structures fit for cactus and succulent production only.”
Ebas added that 21 members received one to three sets of greenhouse materials which comprises a roll of polyethylene sheets, iron pipes, tie wire, and nails. She added, 21 units were already established while nine units are yet to be installed.
Meanwhile, Ameda said that their income from producing cacti and succulents will be used for buying additional materials so that they could properly establish a greenhouse structure intended for vegetable production.
“Even if the materials were not enough, it was like a blessing in disguise because maybe it was really meant for cactus production though it was originally proposed for vegetable production,” he said.
For the other members to benefit from the enterprise subproject, the cooperative will be collecting the total cost of the distributed materials including a two percent service fee and one percent interest from the recipients per quarter. This policy was agreed upon by the members of the PG as part of their operations manual to sustain their enterprise.
Farmers may have been challenged due to the effects of COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine restrictions. But with perseverance and versatility, they were able to explore other possibilities to cope with the challenges and earn income amidst the pandemic. ### ELVY S. TAQUIO (DA-PRDP InfoACE)