THE escalating costs of labor, feed importation and electricity, in addition to ecological disasters are among the problems affecting the CNMI agriculture industry, but research is being conducted to address these issues, according to Northern Marianas College-Cooperative Research Extension and Education Service Director Ross Manglona.
He said to cope with the increasing high cost of labor, farmers should be more efficient in their operations through the use of mechanization.
“We are currently promoting the use of drip irrigation farms to include chemigation,” Manglona said.
Through this method, he added, a farmer applying fertilizer through the irrigation system can also weed at the same time.
Manglona said farm costs money at all times, except during harvest season.
On the high cost of feed importation for meat production, Manglona said there’s nothing much that can be done about shipping costs, but there are alternatives like raising animals that can be fed from local sources, like abalone, mullets and rabbit fish that can feed on seaweed.
Manglona said learning how algae grow could help farmers cope with the increasing electricity costs.
He said the cost of electricity could be reduced if farmers allow algae to flourish and give off oxygen during the day.
The farmers could then turn off their air blowers and only rely on electricity in the evening.
CREES is the Land Grant arm of NMC, which receives funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conduct research and extension activities.