Company spurs cassava planting

Cassava (“balinghoy” or “balanghoy”) is staging a comeback in Negros with Ginebra San Miguel Inc. providing a ready market.

Farmers with standing cassava crops from Cauayan, Sipalay and Hinobaan have so far supplied the company’s distillery in Bago City, Negros Occidental with over 290,000 kilos of dried cassava chips.

The distillery needs four million kilos of dried cassava chips monthly as raw material for its alcohol production, said Joel Guevarra of GSMI. However, due to the current lack of supply of quality chips coming from Negros, GSMI has to source its needs from Mindanao, Thailand and Vietnam.

Ginebra procures its Negros supply in tandem with its accredited local assemblers. These assemblers, in turn, source the chips by inking a Production and Purchase Agreement, with local farmers possessing idle lands.

GSMI is specifically tapping idle lands to provide additional income and livelihood opportunities for rural folks, Guevarra said.

Under the PPA, the assemblers provide farmers with free cassava planting materials, and commit to buy their produce in dried chips form not lower than a guaranteed minimum price which they agree on and set prior to actual planting. Farmers are also given training on sound cassava farming practices, and soil conservation in support of sustainable agriculture.

If the prevailing market price of dried chips is higher than the set minimum purchase price come harvest time, farmers give GSMI’s assemblers the first option to buy the chips at the prevailing price before they sell to the open market. Farmers may also opt to sell their chips directly to Ginebra which the company buys at P8 per kilo delivered to its Bago City distillery.

Over a hundred farmers with idle lands from Southern Negros have already entered into the agreement since its introduction last year. Their first harvest is expected by the coming third quarter.

GSMI is anticipating a further increase in the number beneficiaries with the addition of at least 600 hectares set to be planted with cassava beginning this May. This includes idle lands in Silay City, EB Magalona and Hinigaran, Negros Occidental; Basay, Bayawan and Sta. Catalina in Negros Oriental.

Meanwhile, harvest is ongoing in the company’s demonstration farms located in Victorias, Bago City, Pontevedra, Talisay and Candoni. Similar farms were also opened recently in San Carlos City and the municipality of San Lorenzo in Guimaras. These farms were planted with the popular food grade Golden Yellow variety along with the industrial-grade KU50 and Rayong 5 originally from Thailand. Average fresh tubers yield in these demo farms are at 20,000 kilos per hectare.

GSM is inviting other farmers with idle lands from Cadiz City, Negros Occidental down South to Siaton, Negros Oriental to partner with their accredited assemblers in growing cassava. The company has already started distributing free planting materials among listed participants in preparation for the start of the planting season this May and June.

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