ALTERNATIVE LIVELIHOOD FOR BANANA FARMERS. MinDA Chairman Secretary Emmanuel "Manny" Piñol calls on banana farmers from Davao del Norte to look into sorghum farming as an alternative source of livelihood while the banana industry takes its toll from the effects of fusarium wilt during the Banana Fusarium Wilt Management Forum in Tagum City. Piñol highlighted that buyers from Thailand are willing to purchase the product at 12 pesos per kilo as well as seedling donors from the United States to assist farmers in the province in pursuing this venture.TAGUM CITY - With the onslaught of Fusarium wilt or Panama disease in the province of Davao del Norte, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chairman Secretary Emmanuel "Manny" Piñol urged the banana growers on Friday, to consider sorghum farming.

Speaking during the Banana Fusarium Wilt Management Forum in Tagum City, Davao del Norte, Piñol said that sorghum is an ideal crop to grow while banana plantations recover from the effects of the fusarium wilt.

"Planting sorghum does not require you to overhaul the terrain of your fields so it will be easier to grow, and these are guaranteed to grow in your fields with lesser maintenance," he said.

He also noted that sorghum produces thrice the amount of yield from one planting alone. It can also be used to feed livestock, which is another source of livelihood for the farmers.

"A hectare planted with sorghum can feed at least twenty heads of livestock in a year," he stressed.

Piñol also assured farmers who will venture into sorghum farming that a startup capital will be made available from a private company in the United States (US) who committed to donate seedlings.

As to its market, Piñol also assured that a company from Thailand is willing to buy sorghum at PHP12/per kilo.

"Unless we give access to the farmers, there will never be progress in the countryside," Piñol added.

Davao del Norte Governor Edwin I. Jubahib noted that alternative crops are some of the short-term measures that will ensure a stable income for the farmers while the fusarium wilt issue is being resolved.

"This is why we are working with the Department of Agriculture (DA) in developing tissue culture varieties which will counter fusarium wilt in the long run so that our farmers can go back to growing bananas," he said.

He assured that assistance and support will be provided should they consider the crop as an alternative measure.

"We will be channeling some of our calamity funds to purchase backhoes, to help you start with sorghum farming," Jubahib said. However, the governor also urged the banana farmers to look for other options.

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