The project described the existing sweetpotato seed systems, root production and distribution and household utilization in Tarlac, Bataan and Pangasinan and how the institutional, agro-ecological, socio-economic and political factors influenced each system. It also aimed to ascertain the contribution of sweetpotato to the livelihood of farm households.
Sweetpotato seed systems was characterized by varietal/species conservation practices seen through agro-ecological shifting in Bataan seed piece exchange and in specialized seed system in Pangasinan. The varieties mostly preferred were VSP6, Taiwan, Bentong UPLSP6 and Inubi. Farmers used sets of criteria in the selection/procurement of sweetpotato seedpieces. The existing seed system is still under-developed. Bataan farmers are secured when it comes to sourcing their seedpieces since they produced sweetpotato year-round. Tarlac farmers depend on Bataan and Pangasinan farmers depend on Tarlac for their planting materials. Seedpieces provides additional income (Php9,920/ha) aside from the roots.
Roots of sweetpotato were dominantly for trade and not for household consumption. Farmers also set criteria on the selection of varieties to be grown. Sweetpotatoes growing rely on family, hired and exchange labor.
Harvesting of roots was generally staggered to prevent market glut.
In Bataan, marketing of both seed pieces and roots passed through several channels starting from growers, tipsers, agents, hailers, traders, wholesalers and retailers. The income from the marketing of sweet pieces ranged from Php400 to Php15,000/ha and Php4,000 to Php23,000/ha for roots. Traders control the price of roots.
Farmer's decision to institute improved management practices were determined by projected price of sweetpotato roots and availability of cash to buy the inputs. Grading system for roots differed between lowland and upland cultivation. "Kulot" was a serious problem in all the provinces while soil degradation was becoming a problem in Bataan and flooding in Tarlac.
The existing informal partnership/linkages helped the sweetpotato industry in Central Luzon. Farm laborers, traders, transport owners, cooperative/federation, LGUs, NGOs were the institutions/individuals that supported the sweet potato industry. The support was in the form of credit, technical and marketing assistance.
Utilization of roots as food was determined largely by personal preference. Average daily consumption per household member was 270 grams. The root was usually consumed more as a snack than dish. Availability was an important criterion in using sweetpotato for food. Roots were used more as feed rather than as food.
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