Davao region pushes cassava production

The Davao Region is looking at taking advantage of the growing demand for cassava, an official of the regional Agriculture office said.

Herna M. Palma, Department of Agriculture regional coordinator on corn and cassava, said the domestic demand for cassava has risen to five million metric tons a year and the figure is expected to double by 2014.

In some hinterland areas, particularly in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, the plant has become a main crop for farmers.

Ms. Palma said that getting adequate supply has gotten tougher in recent years as Luzon-based companies start to buy in commercial quantity from Mindanao.

Cassava is used for feeds, confectionery, medicines, glue, liquor and ethanol fuel, among others.

For food requirements alone, demand for cassava will increase to 1.3 million metric tons by 2014 from 654,000 metric tons this year, Ms. Palma said. For feeds, demand will reach 8.2 million metric tons four years from now, from just about half of the demand this year.

Norlito P. Agduyeng, regional technical director of the Department of Agriculture, said the increasing demand for cassava has offered a window of opportunity for farmers.

"We have a ready market for our cassava products, which includes San Miguel Foods, Inc., and other small and medium buyers. All we have to do is to produce high quality and quantity cassava," said Mr. Agduyeng. The government will help farmers increase production by providing them with planting materials that yield better, technical assistance and even post-harvest facilities, he added.

In a related development, Datu Gabriel Sayad, leader of the Council of Elders of the Ata-Manobo tribe, said his community has signed with a consolidator that buys cassava for giant food conglomerate San Miguel Corp.

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