Villasis pays homage to eggplant
By Yolanda Sotelo
VILLASIS -For the 11th year, this agricultural town will pay homage to eggplant, its main agricultural produce, when it celebrates the Talong Festival from January 13-21 next year.
Mayor Nonato Abrenica said girls from different barangays would be donning gowns and wear head dresses decorated with eggplants and other locally produced vegetables like ampalaya, tomatoes, okra peppers and others.
He said the “Pinakbet Gowns” would be worn by the girls early morning of January 20 when the main event would be held.
“Talong-inspired Christmas decorations made of recycled materials are also the features of the yearly festival that aims to market the vegetable,” he said.
Abrenica said the date coincides with the Miss Universe pageant, but is optimistic that the town would still draw visitors, both local and expatriates who usually go home for the holidays.
The town would also stage the cooking pinakbet sa kawa and talong cookfest, with both to have eggplant as the main ingredient.
Roberto Padilla, incharge of the town’s high value crops, said 400 hectares in four barangays are devoted to eggplant farming. The villages are Lipay, San Blas, Caramutan and Pias.
The town produces mainly the long purple variety which can grow up to a foot long.
He said a hectare can produce up to 30 tons for about five months, the average number of months when the eggplants are productive.
At an average price of P20 per kilo, a farmer can have a gross earning of P600,000, or a net income of P400,000 if labor and materials are deducted, he said.’
The eggplants are harvested every five days, with each harvest day yielding more than a ton of the vegetables.
With the total hectares devoted to eggplant and the production volume, the town can well claim to be the eggplant capital of the country, he said.
While eggplant can be grown anywhere, Padilla said Villasis farmers have learned the farming technology as most of them were children or grandchildren of eggplant farmers.
The town’s agricultural office, seed and fertilizer companies also extend technical support to them.
“They have become innovative,” Padilla said of the farmers, “and while they also incur losses during some years, they knew that it is a temporary setback and can always bounce back.”
Villasis also produces other pinakbet vegetables like ampalaya although at lesser volume compared to eggplant.
Only 80-100 hectares are planted to ampalaya, with the farmers using the mestisa variety.
The other agricultural produce of the town is tomatoes, but only10-15 hectares are devoted to the highly perishable vegetable.
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