Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol. (PNA file photo)

DAVAO CITY -- Davao del Norte Cavendish banana farmers whose farms were destroyed by the dreaded Fusarium Wilt or Panama Disease will get free sorghum seeds this week from the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the seeds already arrived after a month-long voyage from Galveston, Texas and being kept in an area designated by the Department of Agriculture in Davao Region (DA-11).

The four-metric tons of hybrid sorghum seeds are part of the 11.2-metric ton donation of Scott Seed, Co., a Texas-based seed production company, to MinDA.

Davao del Norte has been chosen by MinDA as the pilot area for the sorghum program, aimed at producing feed grains for poultry and hogs and silage for small ruminants and livestock in Mindanao.

Governor Edwin Jubahib has earlier committed some areas in Talaingod town for sorghum farming, as it is a predominantly indigenous people’s (IP) community with large unutilized land and very high poverty incidence.

Jubahib, who traveled with MinDA officials to Texas last year to receive the donation from Scott Seed Co., said the introduction of sorghum to the Fusarium affected banana farms and ancestral domain areas could boost the economy of the province.

Piñol said that the remaining seeds will be distributed to other LGUs in Mindanao, including Taraka, Lanao del Sur, the model town for rural development designated by MinDA.

The Sorghum Development Program is part of the economic advocacy of MinDA to support livestock and poultry production and the raising of cattle, goats, and sheep.

“Growing sorghum is less expensive and more profitable compared to corn because the cost of the seeds is lower and the farmer could harvest three times in one year through rationing with just one planting,” he added.

MinDA's Sorghum Development Program aims to develop 100,000 hectares of marginal lands and ancestral domain areas by 2021, seen to generate an estimated PHP15 billion every year.

Two major feeds, poultry and livestock companies, PILMICO of the Aboitiz Group and Thailand's biggest multi-national agriculture company, CP Foods Philippines, have also expressed intent to enter into a marketing agreement with farmers producing sorghum, MinDA said. (PNA)