URC program boosts yield of potato growers


Some potato farmers in Benguet and Davao del Sur have quintupled their average yield with the help of a program which gives them access to high-quality seeds, Universal Robina Corp. (URC) said Thursday.

URC said potato farmers in Benguet, Bukidnon, Davao del Sur are now reaping the benefits of the company’s joint program with the Department of Agriculture which seeks to provide them with Granola potato seeds from Canada.

The program, dubbed Sustainable Potato Program, started in 2018. “Since then, potato yields from the program have grown by more than fivefold.”

“Farmers are now able to harvest 10 to 15 kilos a year out of a kilo of seeds from just three to four kilos previously,” it added.

URC said the farmer-beneficiaries of the program were able to harvest some 1,258 metric tons (MT) of potatoes last year.

The company said it donated up to 135 MT of Granola Elite 3 table potato seeds imported from Canada to over 1,000 farmers.

“These were really quality seeds, and have been a big help for us,” said Ardan Copas, head of the United Potato Cooperative in Benguet.

“Despite the pandemic, we were able to produce a million kilos, thanks to this program,” he added. Copas’s group sold their potatoes for P30 to P35 per kilogram.

Gabriel Bandao, head of the Imbayao Community Participatory Action Research Association, said farmers in Imbayao town, in Bukidnon, were able to sell nearly 10,000 kilos of potatoes for P65 to P70 a kilogram.

“The program helped 100 percent of farmers here in Imbayao.  That’s why we are very thankful to URC. They’ve helped us improve our yield and, with it, our lives,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.

URC said cooperatives that are beneficiaries of the program also receive quality training, as well as access to the latest research and technology on potato farming.

“This initiative has been a win for everyone.  Farmers get the resources they need to weather the pandemic. There is a boost in efforts to promote high-value crops like potato.  URC, meanwhile, realizes its goals under its people- and planet-friendly strategy,” said Laurent Levan, URC’s SVP for Corporate Development & External Affairs.

Levan added that the Sustainable Potato Program is part of URC’s move towards becoming a global sustainable organization.

“Our company is building its sustainability roadmap alongside the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This includes responsible sourcing, production, consumption and developing the capabilities of communities for better livelihood,” Levan said.

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