AFTER 10 years, this city once again restaged the festival that represented its abundant resources, a celebration of what it used to pride itself — the country’s City of Fruits and Highland Springs.
It was in 2004 that Kidapawan last staged the Timpupo Festival, a colorful and elaborate annual event where fruits, flowers, and other farm harvests flood the streets with prices as low as P5 per kilo.
Timpupo is a local term for harvest season.
“We have restaged the festival because we are in the phase where our farms are producing well following years of low productivity,” said Mayor Joseph Evangelista. “What you see now is the proof that our farms have slowly recovered from the effects of the expansion of banana plantations and climate change.”
Divine Ballano, a vendor, said the fruit production in the city has drastically dwindled over the years.
And she only partly knows why.
“Maybe because of the drought and pests,” she said.
Ballano was among the vendors who displayed products in front of the City Hall for the Timpupo Festival.
She sold mangosteen for P30 to P40 per kilo, rambutan for P25 to P50 per kilo, durian for P30 to P50 per kilo, and lanzones for P50 per kilo.
“Among the other fruits, there is scarcity of lanzones now,” she said.
Rhea Plaza, a representative of Dr. Alfreds Farm, a producer of mangosteen products, also noted how production has been very slow for them.
“We produced 1 ton of mangosteen per day last year. But now, we are only able to produce around half a ton a day,” she said.
Kidapawan is known to be one of North Cotabato’s top producers of rambutan, lanzones, durian, mangosteen, pomelo, marang, and passion fruit.
However, the production of these fruits were affected by the rapid expansion of Cavendish banana plantations in the city and the nearby towns of Magpet and Makilala, also producers of indigenous fruits, according to Evangelista.
In 2004, the city was among the areas badly affected by extreme drought. It was also the time when Cavendish banana plantations started to grow, with thousands of hectares of farmlands converted to plantations.
North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza, quoting agriculture experts, said fruit crops suffered from cross pollination.
“Nagtampo ang ating mga crops (Our crops stopped producing well),” she said, adding that the challenge for the province now is to produce crops that can “sustain abundant harvests.”
In the face of these challenges, Evangelista said there is a need to “plant, pray, and work together to revert the planting season to its original month.”
Ten years ago, the peak of the fruiting season was in March. Last year, it was June. Now, the peak is expected in late September to October. | Jefry M. Tupas, NewsDesk