Cassava techno farm shows high yield
LIBMANAN, Camarines Sur — The promising but always sidelined cassava took centerstage, though under the scorching heat of summer, in Barangay Mabini, this town, last week, April 17.
Yield trial of Lakan Yellow, a high yielding cassava variety from UPLB-IPB, was tested on a half-hectare techno demo using planting distances of 0.75 x .75 meter, 1 x .75 meter, and 1 x 1 meter. Lakan Yellow has an average yield of 33.7 tons/hectare.
It is one of the 10 cassava techno demo farms established in the region in 2012 which are scheduled to be harvested this year, after nine months for industrial use. Other sites are located in Iriga City, Pili, Ocampo, and Libmanan in Camarines Sur; Irosin, Castilla, and Gubat in Sorsogon; and in Daet, Cam. Norte. The Department of Agriculture Cassava Project under the Corn Program has provided planting materials, fertilizers, and training on production and processing of cassava, while the Local Government Units’ counterpart are labor for land preparation, which include tractor hire, and the land.
In Libmanan, the techno demo is being managed by the Libmanan Vegetable Growers, Incorporated (LVGAI) that was established eight years ago and has 100 farmer members led by Edwin Castañeda, their president. The LGU of Libmanan provided the land and tractor used during the land preparation. Municipal Agriculturist Francis Brazal, together with his agricultural technologists provided the needed technical assistance.
Their produce will be bought by the Maymatan Multipurpose Cooperative in Goa, Camarines Sur, an assembler accredited by San Miguel Corporation that buys dried granulated cassava at P8.50 per kilo. Jerry Mercado, Maymatan Coop manager, attended the harvest festival and expressed his commitment to market LVGAI produce. Maymatan has been an assembler of SMC (corn and cassava) for six years and Mercado said that there is a big demand for cassava from SMC and other feeds establishments.
Libmanan Mayor Marilyn Jimenez, convinced of the market potential of cassava, promised to give funding support, inputs, and financial assistance to the vegetable growers and livestock raisers as long as they would expand the areas planted to cassava. She also thanked the DA RFU 5 for its support to the farmers.
Engr. Danilo Aman, Regional Cassava Focal Person, discussed the cassava program, and the uses and market potentials of cassava. Cassava, he said, is as nutritious as rice, maybe even more. The tubers of cassava contain 149.0% calories and 68.0 mg calcium while the leaves have 303.0 mg Calcium and 311.0 mg Vitamin C. Compared to other crops, cassava does not need rigid cultural management and it favors the very hot temperature of summer, especially at harvest and drying time.
Aside from its important uses as feed ingredient, cassava has many industrial uses. It is an alternative source of raw material for producing liquor as well as medical and industrial alcohol. The cassava flour is a healthy alternative to wheat flour while the modified cassava starch is being applied for thickening, binding, texturing, and stabilizing a range of food such as canned goods, frozen foods, salad dressings, sauces, and infant foods. It is also a common source for making monosodium glutamate (MSG) and used as binder in medicine tablet production. The starch is also used as raw material in making glue which is a key material in plywood manufacture. Cassava starch is also used in textile processing, and as biodegradable polymer to replace styrofor and plastic packaging materials.
But despite the many benefits derived from cassava, its production in Bicol is dwindling (115,112 MT in 2009, 114,625MT in 2010; 110,020 MT in 2011, and 111,235MT in 2012). The lackluster performance may be attributed to calamities experienced in the region, low adoption of the recommended cassava production; and low cassava per capita consumption (3.12 kg/capita/yr); and limited post-harvest equipment and efficient cassava dryers.
To promote cassava as staple food and alternative to rice, the DA is implementing the following strategies:
1) Increase area planted to cassava by encouraging farmers to plant cassava after corn and vice versa and intercropping cassava with other legumes; planting cassava under coconut; development of idle areas for cassava; and expansion through clustering. 2) Yield Improvement through use of high yielding varieties; fertilization techniques and improved production technology; 3) Mechanization of Production, Processing and Handling through the provision of tractors, mechanical dryers, granulators and chippers, establishment of cassava drying centers (village-type cassava granulation plant), and construction of storage facilities in major cassava producing areas; adherence to quality standards (GAP) to improve quality; 4) Market matching with feedmillers; 5) Conduct of production and capability building trainings, and 6) Distribution of planting materials. Lovella Guarin