Island-town in Quezon attracts prospective agri investors
While the Department of Agriculture (DA) is trying hard to improve the country’s agriculture production, there is an island town in Quezon Province that is “silently” thriving in this particular sector, gaining interest from prospective investors.
Economist Cielito Habito revealed in his column at the Inquirer how the Island-town of Alabat in Quezon is currently establishing its agribusiness and diversfied farm activities.
“My last column, on the island-town of Alabat in Quezon, drew more feedback than usual. Readers took interest in how agribusiness, diversified farm activities and good linkage to value chains appear to have made the difference for Alabat, and brought its poverty level down, quite unusual for an island-town,” Habito said.
“There were inquiries from interested investors, which I would have to endorse to the town leaders. Our visit in fact coincided with that of a group bringing in a major investment in a fish hatchery in Alabat’s coastal area, envisaged to supply fingerlings to aquaculture farms that the firm is also setting up in other nearby Quezon municipalities,” he added.
Habito said that agribusiness initiatives and deliberate initiatives to widen sources of livelihood for the farm populace indeed appear to have set Alabat apart from the adjoining towns of Perez and Quezon, which have thrice and twice as much poverty, respectively.
The town’s calamansi production alone seems to have made a major difference.
Alabat had traditionally been known as a major source of calamansi, the small green citrus fruit often described as the “Philippine lemon” and is part of many a Filipino lunch or dinner table.
In years past, natural calamities and diseases had nearly decimated the crop, with only Alabat managing to keep a prominent chunk of the industry.
Its break came when local calamansi farmers secured a contract to supply Jollibee with the product.
But there’s more beyond calamansi in the picture, Habito said.
“We also saw cacao production and processing; coconut sugar production, which earns far more from the coconut trees than traditional copra production could; honeybee culture; and production of sili (hot chili pepper), bought by Mang Inasal and Chowking,” he further said.
“All these have augmented the meager incomes traditionally derived from rice, coconut and fishing, and have helped keep the townspeople well-fed, such that underweight incidence in Alabat is only about a third that of its two neighbors,” he added.