Wednesday Sep, 30 2020 01:23:38 PM

Basilan prov'l gov't experimenting on sorghum production

AGRICULTURE • 19:45 PM Sat Aug 22, 2020
John M. Unson
One side of the experimental sorghum farm in Isabela City, Basilan. 

COTABATO CITY --- There is a crop being introduced to farmers in Basilan virtually strange to them to complement a provincial livestock program meant to boost domestic food sufficiency.

The administration of Basilan Gov. Jim Salliman has initially propagated sorghum on a two-hectare land near the provincial government’s multi-million drip-irrigated greenhouse in Isabela City as a model farm, from where farmers in the island province can learn propagation of the crop.

Sorghum, which has 25 varieties, is being produced in many tropical countries, in Europe and in the United States of America both as cereal and for animal feeds.

It is something the communities in Basilan have never ever propagated owing to their focus mainly on rubber, coffee, coconut and orchard farming.

Thousands of local farmers have still been struggling to bounce back from losses due to the “cocolisap” infestation that destroyed vast swaths of coconut plantations in the island province in recent years.

Salliman, a second-termer provincial governor, said Saturday they are encouraging constituents to plant sorghum for animal feeds.

He said they are educating farmers on the viability of raising chickens in backyards to augment their income from traditional agricultural activities.

“Propagation of sorghum is something strange or unusual for our people but they have to as a diversification process,” Salliman said.

The massive food security program of the Basilan provincial government took off in 2019 with the setting up of its large greenhouse in Isabela City as a demonstration facility for vegetable production.

The greenhouse has since been producing organic vegetables in large quantities that were only supplied to local markets by merchants from the faraway Zamboanga peninsula in the past.

The provincial government has just constructed another greenhouse with a drip irrigation system in Barangay Taberlongan in Maluso, the fishing capital of the Basilan.

Basilan covers two cities, Isabela and Lamitan, and 11 municipalities whose residents rely mainly on deep sea fishing and farming as sources of income.

Salliman said they are urging local farmers to venture into livestock production sustainable with locally produced corn and sorghum-based feeds.

Residents of Basilan have traditionally been growing cassava in open fields as a basic staple besides rice.

Salliman said they are to experiment on production of animal feeds utilizing cassava as extenders for mixed sorghum and corn preparations.

“There are raw ingredients for animal feeds we can gather around to sustain livestock production in the backyards,” Salliman said.


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