Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chairman Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol urged banana growers on Friday to consider sorghum farming while recovering from the effects of Fusarium wilt or Panama disease.
“Planting sorghum does not require you to overhaul the terrain of your fields so it will be easier to grow, and these are guaranteed to grow in your fields with lesser maintenance,” he said, during the Banana Fusarium Wilt Management Forum in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.
He also noted that sorghum produces thrice the amount of yield from one planting alone.
It can also be used to feed livestock, which is another source of livelihood for the farmers.
“A hectare planted with sorghum can feed at least 20 heads of livestock in a year,” he said.
Piñol also assured the farmers who will venture into sorghum farming that a startup capital will be made available from a private company in the United States, which will donate seeds.
As to its market, Piñol assured that a company from Thailand is willing to buy sorghum at PHP12 per kilo.
“Unless we don’t give access to the farmers, there will never be progress in the countryside,” Piñol added.
Davao del Norte Governor Edwin I. Jubahib noted that alternative crops are some of the short-term measures that will ensure a stable income for the farmers while the fusarium wilt issue is being resolved.
“This is why we are working with the Department of Agriculture (DA) in developing tissue culture varieties which will counter fusarium wilt in the long run so that our farmers can go back to growing bananas,” he said.
He assured that assistance and support will be provided should they consider the crop as an alternative measure.
“We will be channeling some of our calamity funds to purchase backhoes, to help you start with sorghum farming,” Jubahib said.
However, the governor also urged the banana farmers to look for other options. (PNA)