Horticulture experts from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) discussed the status and prospects of the calamansi industry in Oriental Mindoro, the largest producer of calamansi in the country at a seminar convened by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) last February 12.

Dr. Calixto Protacio presented an “Analysis of Calamansi Production Practices in Oriental Mindoro,” while Dr. Domingo Angeles talked about the “Calamansi Sub-sector Industry Situationer, Challenges, Programs, and RDE Needs.” Both are full professors at the Institute of Crop Science of the UPLB College of Agriculture and Food Science.

Low production, income

Based on his study in 2017-2018 that covered calamansi farms in Calapan City, Naujan, Victoria, Socorro, and Pola, Protacio reported that only those farms with access to water year-round were able to achieve off-season production. He also said the study showed that “low fertilization input towards production invariably resulted in low production and income.”

Calamansi for sale in the market.

Other constraints 

In addition to Protacio’s report, in his presentation, Angeles noted that other constraints in calamansi production in Oriental Mindoro include lack of supply of quality planting materials, low prices during the peak season, lack of access to service providers, and poor farm-to-market road.

Meanwhile, Dr. Jose Medina, overall project coordinator of Piloting and Upscaling Effective Models of Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (ISARD), a collaborative action research of SEARCA, Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology (MinSCAT), and the local government units (LGUs) of Oriental Mindoro, shared lessons and experiences in said ISARD project started in 2015.

Medina stressed the importance of investing on Mindoro farmers, directing new paths of partnership, life-long learning for family, incorporating start-up funds, institutionalizing group savings and lending system, and creating KM center for calamansi farmers.

From the perspective of the local community, Christine Pine, Provincial Agriculturist of Oriental Mindoro, shared the vision for the calamansi industry in the province. She emphasized the need to increase year-round production of high quality fresh calamansi fruits, increase farmers’ income, increase adaptive capacity of calamansi farmers to climate change, develop and sustain new local and export markets, and establish a functional industry cluster that complements the agriculture and food industry sectors.

The seminar was also a venue for developing approaches for the scoping activity and baseline studies of the new project “Upgrading the Calamansi Value Chain towards Improving the Calamansi Industry of Oriental Mindoro” that SEARCA has embarked with several partners and funding from the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR).

The project aims to address the technical and market constraints that confront the calamansi industry along the value chain, and bring together the strengths of research institutions, in collaboration with the local government units and other calamansi stakeholders in Oriental Mindoro.

Planting camote between rows of calamansi can yield additional income.

SEARCA’s partners in the project are UPLB, Tokyo University of Agriculture (Tokyo NODAI), MinSCAT, and the provincial and municipal LGUs of Oriental Mindoro. The Victoria Kalamansi Farmers Federation (VKFF) is the project’s partner-beneficiary.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s March 2019 issue.