Benguet farmers fear loss of crops as Tropical Storm Ramon creeps close

Michelle Soriano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 15 2019 06:21 PM

Each strawberry farm in La Trinidad town, Benguet records 200 to 300 strawberry pickers each day in the months of December to February. Farmers fear, however, that they will not be able to meet such numbers when tropical storm Ramon hits the province. Michelle Soriano, ABS-CBN News

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet- Benguet farmers just bouncing back from losses incurred during Typhoon Ompong last year are now bracing for Tropical Storm Ramon, which might affect their crops set for peak season harvest in La Trinidad town.

Belmor Calayon, a strawberry farmer, lost thousands in agricultural input after Ompong flooded the town’s agri-tourism destination on September 2018. The water-soaked leaves developed frog-eye spots which caused the plants to rot.

Because the weather has been good to them this year, their yield is now being prepared for harvest in December, just in time for the high season. Each strawberry farm records 200 to 300 strawberry pickers each day in the months of December to February.

Calayon now fears they will not be able to meet the expected high demand when the storm hits.

“Kung malakas 'yung pag-ulan, baka may ma-flood dito sa farm. Ang hindi magandang epekto nun, maraming disease sa aming mga tanim,” said Calayon.

(If it rains hard, the farm will get flooded. The bad effect will be diseases in our crops.)

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Cordillera has raised the blue alert status over the region to prepare for and monitor the effects of the storm, which is expected to bring rains in North and Central Luzon.

Meanwhile, lettuce farmer Jubeskie Sukabit is thinking of harvesting his Romaine lettuce early to save them from the rains. 

This, however, means reduction in profit as his crops are sold in a cooperative at a fixed price per kilogram. A few more days in the garden will add weight to the lettuce.

“'Pag malapit nang ma-harvest, iha-harvest namin. 'Yung mga katatanim pa lang, hihintayin namin. Baka sakaling hindi lalakas ang ulan,” Sukabit explained.

[We will only harvest those that are about to be mature. We will wait for those that have just been planted, in case the rains won’t be heavy.]

The local government said it was encouraging farmers to register for crop insurance.

“We require them to submit their names at saka kung ano 'yung product nila para in case na they (and their products so that in case they) will be affected, may maibibigay 'yung (they will be given) crop insurance,” said La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda.

Crop insurance provides protection to farmers affected by calamities, plant diseases and pests.