The destructive Fusarium wilt or Panama disease that has long plagued Davao del Norte’s banana industry, prompted the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) to introduce sorghum farming while recovering from the effects of the plant disease.
Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Davao del Norte has been chosen by MinDA as the pilot area of the sorghum program which is aimed at producing feed grains for poultry and hogs and silage for small ruminants and livestock in Mindanao.
Piñol said Gov. Edwin Jubahib has committed some areas in Talaingod town for sorghum farming, as it is a predominantly indigenous people’s (IP) community with large unutilized land and very high poverty incidence.
He said a Texas-based sorghum seeds company, Scott Seeds, has donated 25-tons of hybrid seeds to MinDA.
“Actually, the offer to donate seeds for the sorghum program was facilitated by Agriculture Attache Joy Javelosa when I was Agriculture Secretary, but this was stalled when I resigned from the DA and moved to the MinDA in August,” he added.
He said the seeds are expected to arrive in Mindanao by the first quarter of 2020 and will be planted starting February.
“On Dec. 16, I and Gov. Jubahib will travel to Texas to sign the deed of donation and transfer of PHP5 million worth of sorghum seeds from Scott Seeds’ president Chad Kriegshauser to MinDA, and from MinDA to Davao del Norte provincial government,” he added.
Piñol said another Texas sorghum seeds company, Warner Seeds, has also expressed interest in supporting the sorghum development program of Mindanao.
“A Philippine-based Thai multi-national poultry and hog corporation, CP Foods Philippines, has committed to purchase the sorghum production of Mindanao farmers,” he added.
Sorghum is a drought-tolerant grass that produces grains the size of mongo beans ideal for food and feed grains.
“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 held in Tagum City, Davao del Norte recently.
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. (PNA)