Iloilo Farmers Learn Farm Technologies at Barotac Viejo’s IFS Demo Farm
To help its farmers adopt appropriate farm models for increased productivity, the municipal government of Barotac Viejo, Iloilo has bought and developed a hilly, forested land into a demonstration farm.
Called the Integrated Farm System (IFS) Demonstration Farm, this 4-hectare site that was once barren and populated with cogon and hagonoy now showcases various farm technologies for dryland farming, wetland farming, livestock raising, and ornamental gardening.
TECHNOLOGIES FOR DRYLAND FARMING
One of the dryland farm technologies that the farm management team has demonstrated is the Assisted Natural Regeneration Technology.
According to Municipal Agriculturist Jesus Balila who heads the team, it is the cheapest approach to recover barren areas like the site of the demo farm. Noxious weeds such as cogon and hagonoy are eliminated by planting and allowing legumes to creep over these weeds. And this was exactly what the team did; they established a leguminous ground cover the areas planted to vegetables to eliminate weeds.
It was carried out concurrently with the establishment of 400 grafted mango trees in the major portions of the farm. The trees are expected to start bearing fruits after five years. The local government plans to either lease the trees to fruit vendors or sold the fruits directly to fruit vendors or townspeople at a wholesale price when that time comes.
Periodic brushing was also undertaken to prevent competition for sunlight among mango seedlings and to provide these a head start.
Hillsides were turned into vegetable farms. Holes measuring 30 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm were dug along the contours and planted to pole beans, ampalaya, and squash in rotation.
An eggplant patch was also established. The eggplants were ratooned to make these productive for about four years so that it wouldn’t be necessary to establish new eggplants every year.
Moreover, the municipal -government has signed in early 2008 a memorandum of agreement with a private company and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on the development of about 2,000 ha for ylang-ylang for the production of ylang-ylang oil. To date, the company has already planted more than 500 ha. The local government for its part establishes mother trees and develops a nursery for patchouli, another source of essential oil which is more expensive than ylang-ylang oil.
TECHNOLOGIES FOR WETLAND FARMING
With more than 2,000 ha planted to rice in the municipality, alternative technologies for wetland farming were developed. Initial activities for the improvement of rice yield focused on producing low cost organic fertilizers and soil ameliorants.
Among these is the bio-active carbonized rice hull (BCRH). It’s a soil conditioner that speeds up the decomposition of animal manure by as much as 30 percent and improves growth and yield of vegetables. The team used it in managing root knot nematode infestation in the eggplant patch at the demo farm. I t was helpful also to many farmers; the% saved about 40 percent on fertilizer cost, according to Balila.
This year, more farmers would benefit from this technology for IFS technician Vicente Batic-batic has developed an enhanced BCRH in which micronutrients such as Boron and Magnesium arc added. In fact after its introduction, the demo farm was swamped with requests for more supply of enhanced BCRH because farmers who used it had dramatic yield increase.
The IFS demo farm has also introduced the production of abalong a type of gabi which produces edible runners that Ilonggos called takway-in waterlogged farms. This farm model is the solution to very low farm productivity in waterlogged areas. At the IFS demo farm. 1,000-square meter waterlogged field was planted to abalong and this project yielded about P 12,000 in a year.
The IFS team has included livestock raising for it is a source of additional income as well as organic fertilizer. Hence, it would be of help to farmers in saving on the cost of inputs.
One of the farm models developed for this purpose is the No-wash-pigs Technology. In this model, pigpens are deodorized by stocking the pens with an odor-absorbent bedding mix made up of equal amounts of river or beach sand, fresh rice hulls, and carbonized rice hulls. Adding dried kakawate, neem, and ipil-ipil leaves in the bedding mix helps speed up the processing of the bedding mix into organic fertilizer.
An ornamental garden has been established in the demo farm to encourage housewives to earn additional income through ornamental horticulture.
Medicinal plants are also planted. Among these is pink periwinkle or rosas sa baybayon. It reportedly cures various diseases. In fact, IFS technician Junior Gonzales processes these into capsules and ointments and sells them for added income.
PLANS FOR THE DEMO FARM
The local government has already acquired murrah buffalos for the demo farm, but the IFS team is still developing a technology for its production.
The team also plans to improve the technology in making of carbonized rice hull to increase production. Currently, the farm is dependent on a small rice hull stove which can only produce about three bags per hour.
“We need new, cheap technologies to produce more rice hull carbon for various farm operations,” Batic-batic said.
They also plan to establish a butterfly range to attract more visitors. The team is already conducting a study on it.
“So far,” says Mayor Raul Tupas, “we have developed appropriate, low cost technologies that can be. easily adopted by our farmers. We hope that farmers from other areas would be interested to visit the farm.”
“We also welcome new ideas, especially from agribusiness people. We hope that as our demo farm evolves, the municipality will realize substantial revenues from its operation and educate more farmers on new farm technologies,” he added.