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Founded to uplift families lacking basic necessities and farming support in Canlaon City, the Potato Systems Research and Training Centre (PSRTC), spearheaded by Dr. Victoria Demonteverde, has provided quality planting materials and training since 2016. Dr. Demonteverde is a distinguished figure in rural development and horticulture.

“Canlaon Potatoes and Flowers (CP&F) is ‘Agribusiness with a Heart’. The Demo Farm is the agribusiness and the Potato Systems Research and Training Center (PSRTC) is the heart that does the research and extension components,” Monteverde tells LEAGUE. The project can be traced back to the implementation of land reform laws in the Philippines, which led to the conversion of large haciendas into smaller plots of land owned by former tenants or farmworkers.

Farmers in Canlaon City shifted from planting sugarcane to potatoes and vegetables but faced challenges like bacterial wilt, tuber moths, and a shortage of quality seeds. Despite this, they adopted innovative agricultural practices from PSRTC, such as rapid multiplication and greenhouse cultivation of potato clones via tissue culture, thus revolutionizing local farming.

Since 2016, PSRTC has made significant strides, starting with the production of 15,000 potato cuttings for trial, followed by the cultivation of 18,000 sweet potato cuttings for germ plasm that same year. Production steadily increased in the subsequent years, resulting in the selection of five potato clones and four sweet potato clones, demonstrating PSRTC’s effective interventions.

The collaborative efforts between Demonteverde and Dr. Peter VanderZaag, driven by their shared commitment to help farmers, have yielded remarkable results over the years. From the implementation of cloned environment-tolerant potato varieties in 1985 to the establishment of the PSRTC in the Canlaon Potatoes & Flowers farm, their partnership has been characterized by milestones of progress. The introduction of the Farmers Fund, known colloquially as the “Canadian” by locals, has further bolstered community empowerment efforts by providing farmers with access to much-needed capital. Since its founding, the initiative has enabled 140 farmers to join, offering non-collateral loans that lets the farmers procure essential inputs and enhance their financial resilience. ”Helping farming and disadvantaged communities is our mission from the start when we started with CP&F. We only saw the need to have an NGO (non-governmental organization) registered to achieve these goals as CP&F is a private profit entity. Hence, PSRTC was registered in 2018 after being operational since 2016.” Monterverde recalls.

Asked about her decision to pursue CP&F, Monteverde says,“It provided opportunities to various sectors in terms of training, various kinds of support, linkages. It also promoted social and economic development in different communities including Barangay Pula. Personally, as a family, it is an answered prayer to be a channel of blessings to others.” The impact of the PSRTC extends beyond agricultural productivity, embodying a holistic approach to community development.

PSRTC also fosters sustainable livelihoods and knowledge transfer through potato and sweet potato cultivation initiatives and educational programs on vegetable farming for school children and persons with disabilities, in partnership with universities and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Partnerships with local associations and universities ensure the program’s continuity and scalability, cementing its long-term impact. The PSRTC’s successful revitalization of potato production and community empowerment initiatives highlight its potential to explore more agricultural practices. By leveraging cloning techniques, fostering community engagement, and promoting inclusive development, PSRTC paves the way for sustainable agricultural solutions.

From small communities in Canlaon City and nearby towns, to being acknowledged by local government units, PSRTC has come a long way. Moving forward, PSRTC seeks investments in research, capacity- building, and community support through partnerships with government and non-government institutions, academia, and farmers’ groups to ensure the longevity and prosperity of agricultural communities across the Philippines.

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