Southern Palawan’s Potential in Growing High-Value Crops

By Zac B. Sarian

Did you know that there is a big area in Palawan that is typhoon-free and which could be developed into a food bowl of rice and high-value crops? The harvests could be for export as well as for local consumption.

This is the area in southern Palawan which boasts of 730,000 hectares of land that can be cultivated. Would you believe that by developing the areas, it is possible the Philippines could as well forget about importing rice from Vietnam and Thailand?

Arlene Valera (left) addressing a group that included Ricky Sun at the Agrilink trade expo.

We got this tidbit of information when we met Arleen Varela at the recent Agrilink trade show at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. We have known Arleen, a Los Baños agriculture graduate, who was into large-scale production of sweet corn several years back. He was so successful that he was even featured in the pages of the Reader’s Digest.

That was several years back. Not so long ago, he gave up his sweet corn agribusiness altogether and decided to relocate to Palawan. He claimed he was a victim of climate change. For five years in a row, strong typhoons had devastated his sweet corn plantations. So, why did he go to Palawan?

Well, he said, not many people know that a big portion of the province, from Puerto Princesa down to the south, is not visited by typhoons at all. Arleen was so upbeat in telling us about the many excellent agricultural possibilities of the southern towns that include Batarasa, Española, Rizal, Quezon, Narra and Brooke’s Point.

Aside from rice, the typhoon-free areas could be developed for large-scale production of bananas for export, cacao, coffee, pineapple, mangosteen, durian, and so many others. The good thing about it is that the government has started developing infrastructure in the area. As of now, there are excellent roads going to the south.

One important order of the day is to map the fertility situation of the soil in the different areas so that those with problem soils can be rehabilitated. And speaking of problem soils, these could be rehabilitated to be suitable even for organic crop production areas within a short period. Arleen was upbeat in telling us about Bioyodal, a soil from the Acatama desert in Chile, which is full of nutrients and micronutrients. He said that the organic fertilizer has been tried in the Philippines and the results are said to be fantastic, although the product is not yet commercially released in the market.

Arleen cites an organic farm in Indang, Cavite, which has tried applying Bioyodal on lettuce in combination with a plant extract called Perfect Crop Solution or PCS. He said the lettuce plants were harvestable in just 21 days from planting and they were bigger than the 30-day-old plants not given the Bioyodal and PCS treatment. He also reported that calamansi trees treated with the same solution produced fruits continuously for eight months. It has also worked wonders in trials on rice and sugarcane.

There you are: the information that Arleen revealed to us could help open the eyes of people in government and the private sector regarding the possibilities of agricultural development in the typhoon-free areas in southern Palawan.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s December 2016 issue as “Little Known Agri Potentials of Typhoon-Free Southern Palawan.” 

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