Organic strawberries served at the Winaca Eco-Cultural Village in Tublay, Benguet (File Photo)
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Despite the damages wrought by Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) on strawberry fields in this capital town of Benguet in mid-September, the local government of La Trinidad has assured locals and tourists the traditional strawberry picking goes on in this town, known for its abundant strawberries, this holiday season.
“There are available fruits for the strawberry picking activities that tourists coming over here love to do,” the town's tourism officer, Valred Olsim, told the media in a briefing on Friday.
Strawberry-picking in this town is done at the Agri-Tourism Business Incubation (ATBI) area, which is managed by the Benguet State University, at the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center, and at another center managed by private persons, who let visitors pick strawberries as an agri-tourism activity in their farms.
La Trinidad, known for the heart-shaped, juicy red fruit, reported an 80-percent damage in strawberry plants and berries during the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong in mid-September.
Olsim said La Trinidad produces an average of 1,175 metric tons of strawberry fruits yearly.
“This year, we are projecting to harvest only 720 metric tons,” he said.
However, he pointed out, there are other strawberry farms in other areas that supplement the town's strawberry production.
He added some of the plants at the ATBI were saved, as the area uses a technology that lets the strawberries grow on elevated platforms, a technology learned by the farmers during exchange programs in Japan.
Olsim said the town will be complying with the request of the ATBI to control the entry of those who want to pick strawberries, while the others will be allowed only at the viewing deck.
“They asked that we limit the entry of tourists and will do a scheduling of picking on the farms,” he said.
Mayor Romeo Salda said the La Trinidad town government is expecting the arrival of new imported strawberry planting materials by January or February.
These materials, he said, will be distributed to the farmers to produce runners for planting.
“We have imported new planting materials. They will be sold to the farmers and the proceeds will be used to repurchase additional planting materials,” Salda said.
He pointed out that the imported planting materials, the “shoga” and “sweet charlie” varieties from California, will be bearing fruits by October 2019.
The farmers change their strawberry plants once in a while to produce bigger fruits.