Organic Way Moves On
It seems the organic movement is going great everywhere. Thanks to the soaring prices of chemical fertilizers three or four years ago, more and more farmers have turned to organic farming. Instead of urea and the like, many have resorted to processed as well as semi-processed organic fertilizers. An increasing number of practitioners have resorted to beneficial organisms to enrich plant extracts, fish emulsion and so on. More people are turning to fermentation technology for the production of organic plant growth enhancers.
And one of the more interesting developments that came to our attention is the project of Dr. Ofelia Peralta of the Sunshine International School in Daraga, Albay. Last year she bought a one-hectare property in front of her school which she converted into an organic farm producing high-value vegetables and other crops.
What is so interesting is that she has organized an Eco-Friendly Club with the grade school kids as its members. The young children are introduced to the wonderful world of growing crops the organic way. The members hold meetings during which they are taught the basics of growing plants and taking good care of them. This way, they also learn to love eating vegetables and fruits which lead to a healthy life style.
Of course the biggest boost to the organic farming movement is the enactment of the Philippine Organic Agriculture Law. During the recent Third Pinoy Organic Agriculture Festival in Quezon City, the principal author of the law, Sen. Miguel Zubiri, was as enthusiastic as the attendees about the recent developments. What is being awaited is the IRR or implementing rules and regulations.
What is important is that there should be readily available inputs of good quality. More demonstration farms should also be established so that doubting farmers could be more easily convinced about the benefits of farming the organic way.
The best way to convince farmers to turn organic is to show them that profits are made while the cost of production is reduced. Many farmers are still hesitant to abandon their chemical farming ways because they are not sure if they will be able to produce enough harvest with the use of organic fertilizers.
Organic farming does not cover only growing crops without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. It also includes growing naturally-farmed pigs and chickens. Andry Lim of Davao City and the Sanianos of the Earthkeepers in Tiaong, Quezon, are known practitioners of growing naturally-farmed pigs – without the use of antibiotics and other chemicals. They have proven that they can succeed and they also make more money because they can sell their meat at a higher price.
More on organic agriculture next time.
By Zac B. Sarian
A model vegetable garden in a subdivision in San Fernando City in Pampanga could provide inspiration to other subdivisions in other parts of the country.
This is the half-hectare plantation of vegetables and other high-value crops in an open space in St. Jude Subdivision. There, the latest hybrid crops from East-West Seed Company are being grown using improved planting technologies.
The showcase is a project of San Fernando Mayor Oscar Rodriguez in cooperation with the leaders of the subdivision and East-West Seed Company. The dream of the mayor, according to Myrna Manabat, the city agriculturist, is for the 127 residential subdivisions in the city to have their own vegetable gardens. This will be for the benefit of the residents as they would have access to fresh produce.
They themselves could learn to grow their own vegetables in their backyards because training for whoever wants to learn how to grow vegetables the modern way is part of the mayor’s program.
The vegetable garden at St. Jude is surrounded by the jogging lane so it is very visible to the residents. It is also just a stone’s throw from the church.
To start the project, the city government took care of preparing the land for planting. It also took care of buying the seedlings for planting. Then it hired four full time workers to take care of the plants. Mrs. Manabat said that the first planting was done on September 28, right after typhoon Ondoy.
Among the first crops to be planted were Diamante Max tomato, Gwapito eggplant, Galactica ampalaya, Tambuli upo, Pipinito cucumber, and string beans. In the second cropping, other varieties were also included.
The first cropping was very encouraging.
The tomatoes grown in eight plots produced almost two tons in three months from planting, producing an income of P41,842.50. The eggplant which was planted also in 8 plots measuring one meter by 55 meters also produced P20,800 worth of fruits. The ampalaya, upo, cucumber and string beans were also money makers.
Mrs. Manabat relates that many of the joggers in the early morning would usually go home with freshly harvested tomatoes, eggplant or some other vegetables they bought from the garden. Oh yes, the harvests are sold at reasonable prices.
Because of the success of the project, the mayor is set to continue the program in the more than 100 subdivisions in San Fernando. One new project initiated by Mrs. Manabat is the planting of sweet sorghum in a new subdivision. The grains will be used for making native delicacies by members of the Rural Improvement Club while the juice will be used in the nutrition program for elementary school children.
By Zac B. Sarian