Celebrates bountiful cassava

The southern Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi celebrated for the first time the "Cassava and Banana Harvest Festival" that drew hundreds of farmers and residents.

Tawi-Tawi Governor Sadikul Sahali said food flourishes in the province and the people never ran short of something to eat as amplified in the festival’s theme, “Nobody…Nobody Goes Hungry in Tawi-Tawi.”

Unknown to many, Tawi-Tawi, famed for its massive seaweeds production and rich marine resources, has been experiencing surplus production of cassava – a staple food here and the neighboring provinces of Sulu and Basilan.

The more than 19,000 hectares of land planted to cassava in the province produce close to 170,000 metric tons of harvest every year.

Sangkula Tindick, the provincial agricultural officer, puts the province’s cassava surplus at around 40 percent. Some of which end up in markets in Sabah, which is just few hours by boat from Tawi-Tawi, and even in Sulu province.

He said the province has been consistently producing excessive supply of cassava for the last 10 years now when they began advocating the farming of the root crop and fruit trees such as mango throughout Tawi-Tawi. They also offer free seedlings to local residents.

Almost all of the major islands in the province have their cultivated lands planted with cassava, banana or mango, according to Tindick, adding that these lands used to be idle.

Even the famous Turtle Island was not taken out of the picture. The provincial agriculture office launched a project few years back dubbed as the “greening” of Turtle Island, encouraging locals to plant cassava and mango trees.

Their campaign has paid off really well, said Tindick. "Now, the province’s people and economy will not just be relying on marine resource but on the similarly rich soil as well," he said.

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