By Estrella Z. Gallardo
In a Sweetpotato FIESTA (Farms and Industry Encounters through the S&T Agenda forum titled Technology Investment Policy Forum: Farmer-Industry farmers Intrepreneurs and experts discussed the potentials of sweetpotato at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), Quezon City.
The activity discussed the strengths, opportunities, and challenges of producing, processing, and marketing sweetpotato.
Dr. Torno shared his experiences and difficulties of his fellow farmers, as well in harvesting sweetpotato because of lack of knowledge and resources. He also stressed on the importance of determination, that every farmers showed have to learn more of the trade, amidst some mistakes along the way.
Meanwhile Dr. Tulin shows full support for the development of the sweetpotato industry and had made know to the public his first work in the production of wine made from weevil-infested sweetpotato, that despite the infestation it could still be converted to something consumable.
Usec. Lavina, on the other hand, discussed the importance of having a simpler and understandable roadmap for developing sweetpotato. “It has to be understood by everyone on the ground, especially the farmers. They are the ones who will directly benefit from this roadmap,” she explained.
She also stressed the importance of strengthening organizations and capacitating farmers to provide a more sustainable impact in the industry.
Dr. Sagum focused on the nutritional aspect of sweetpotato, saying that its fiber content can raise one’s very-low-density lipoprotein or good cholesterol. She also cited a project where a rice-like food made of sweetpotato, flour, and corn can be used as emergency food during calamities.
Dr. Paris, in her 33 years of working at IRRI, acknowledged that rice technologies alone will not reduce poverty and improve nutrition in the country. She then explained the importance of sweetpotato in rice-based systems as well as the increasing empowerment of women going into marketing and farming because of advanced technology.
The forum was capped with an open forum from various sectors such as farmers, entrepreneurs, and researchers.
The challenges brought up include ensuring the sustainability of the programs promoting sweetpotato and financial limitations in acquiring sweetpotato-based technologies.
The forum is part of the Sweetpotato FIESTA, which aims to promote sweetpotato as a nutritious superfood and as a promising food industry. (Philippine Press Club, Inc.))