ARMM cassava production continues to expand

ZAMBOANGA CITY—The Department of Agriculture and Food in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DAF-Armm) on Tuesday announced that the cassava production in the region has continued to increase with the growing domestic industrial demand.

Dr. Albert Usman, DAF-Armm cassava coordinator, said the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao are the top cassava producers in the autonomous region.

Usman said cassava harvested in these areas are sold mainly for industrial consumption, while those in Basilan and Tawi-Tawi are generally used for food.

Usman further noted that cassava is considered as a crop with high economic potential that can have a significant contribution to the Armm’s agricultural output.

Cassava is regarded as the third most important food crop in the tropics, after rice and corn. Valued by small-scale farmers for its tolerance to drought and infertile soil, the crop is essentially ecoefficient.

The Armm is ranked second in the entire country in terms of cassava production, with 16.9 percent of the national output, based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority covering the first quarter of this year.

Northern Mindanao is on top among cassava-producing regions, with 189.41 thousand metric tons harvest, or 32.1 percent of the national output. Cagayan Valley is third, with 16.6 percent.

Usman emphasized that his office, through its Gender and Development (GAD) unit, has conducted a series of training sessions on cassava food processing in the Talayan, Guindulungan and Sultan Mastura towns in Maguindanao

Usman said the training could expand the livelihood opportunities for residents in rural communities and, at the same time, boost the production of the crop in the Armm.

Usman added the training focuses on improving the lives of less-favored sectors of the rural population by means of utilizing available farm crops, like cassava, which is abundant in the region’s agricultural areas.

He said he participants were taught how to make cassava cake, cassava jelly, cassava puto taktak  and other cassava-based products and delicacies.

The program also caters to the needs of the farmers, such as giving machinery and cassava graters.

The training program attracted 148 active participants in the towns of Talayan Guindulungan, as well as in Sultan Mastura.

The training program is currently implemented in the provinces of Maguindanao, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan.

GAD focal person Ramla Macatabang said the training is also geared at empowering women and youth to gain basic skills in cassava food processing for entrepreneurial activities, increase their productivity and to improve family income.