With more than 50% of the entire country’s calamansi produced in Oriental Mindoro, the province is fittingly known as the Calamansi King. The king, however, has shown a steady decline in production over the years due to pest infestation, typhoons, ageing trees, unstable market price, and lack of institutional buyers – all of which leads to crop conversion.
The advent of PRDP in the province has given calamansi farmers a fighting chance of proving their worthiness of the title. Mr. Conrado Balmes, president of the Oriental Mindoro Farmers Federation is also the leader of the Proponent Group – Naujan Farmer’s Association. He said that the farmers of Oriental Mindoro are optimistic of the assistance that they will be receiving through PRDP.
As of this writing the DA regional office through its RPCO and HVCDP banner program, has provided assistance in preparation for the full implementation of the PRDP. Interventions such as calamansi seedlings for the rehabilitation and expansion of areas, fertilizers, and irrigation system for the off-season fruiting has been given in support of the program. Trainings in Good Agricultural Practices and Good Manufacturing Processes had also been conducted. To address the unstable market price and lack of institutional buyers, the AMAS and AMAD had formed farm clusters and conducted market matching where the organized clusters were given direct link with institutional buyers. The Provincial Local government Unit has also shown full support with their holding of the Calamansi Congress during the 63rd founding anniversary of the province where 250 calamansi farmers were informed of the PRDP projects. The PLGU will also provide an amount of 1M pesos as seed fund for the proponent group’s activities.
For their part, Balmes said that they have already started marketing calamansi with the help of AMAD. A temporary buying station has been established to accustom their farm-clusters with the business plan as proposed to the PRDP where farm clusters bring their produce in-bulk to the buying station. Because they are linked with institutional buyers, farmers are now aware of the selling price of their farm produce for which they are paid upon their delivery to the buying station. For bringing the calamansi to their buyers, the AMAD has lend the Regional Office’s truck as they wait for their proposed delivery trucks. According to Balmes, approximately 110 tons have been delivered to Marigold Commodities Corporation, owner of Mama Sita’s and 10 tons to Distileria Limtuaco, maker of Manille Liqueur de Calamansi since August of 2014.
Excited and nervous at the same time, Balmes explained how Mindoro calamansi farmers feel about PRDP, excited at the many possibilities for the regrowth of the province’s calamansi industry and nervous of the challenges that they will face in achieving their goals. Balmes himself feels the same way, he said that he calms his nerves by reminding himself of the same words that he says to his fellow farmers. “Hindi natin kailangan ng biglaang kita… mas maganda yung buong taon kumikita tayong mga magsasaka.”
Eager for the day when calamansi farmers regain their kingdom, Balmes said that Mindoro Oriental is ready for PRDP.