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Tarlac Is into Organic Farming

Organic Agriculture is the trend today. The demand for organic, food and products is increasing as consumers are becoming health conscious. Likewise, provincial governments are implementing programs on organic farming to safeguard health of citizens and generate more income through increased food production.

Tarlac is one of the provinces in Central Luzon that is already into the organic craze. Five months earlier, the provincial government launched its Natural Tarlac program, which was conceptualized by Governor Victor A. Yap. The program primarily aims to “improve the quality of agricultural products and increase food production in Tarlac through extensive use of organic fertilizers,” says Yap.

The initial implementation of the program this dry season is focused in rice production, according to Edwina K. Tabamo, provincial agriculture officer. Rice farmers are entitled to a P2,000 (20 percent) discount for every 10 bags of organic fertilizer they buy from the Municipal Agriculture Office. Included in this is the P1,000 discount courtesy of the provincial government and another P1,000 discount from the P10 million subsidy promised by the Department of Agriculture (DA), she added.

As of now, 20,000 bags of organic fertilizers have been given to rice farmers in the second cropping season. The program would be fully implemented in the forthcoming wet season and likewise, vegetable, corn, and fruit farmers would be given the same discount.

Prior to the implementation of the Tarlac Natural program, the provincial government has identified and accredited some local organic fertilizer manufacturers as exclusive sources of organic fertilizers. These are Novatech in Sta. Ignacia with a capacity to produce 10,000 bags per month, Marigreen Enterprises in Tarlac City with 5,000 bags per month, and the Vermicropping in Gerona with 3 tons to 5 tons per month. Another accredited manufacturer, the Power Organic Fertilizer Enterprises in Concepcion, will soon commercialize its bio-organic fertilizers.

The provincial government, in coordination with DA Regional Office, has also distributed mechanical shredders to 11 municipalities to enable them to produce their own organic fertilizers. Municipal governments are likewise encouraged to utilize animal manure, rice straw and decomposed plants for this purpose, and swine and poultry manure are no longer allowed to be sold outside the province.

Non-government organizations are also being tapped to help in the production of organic fertilizers. The NGO PGT Vermicomposting for instance has been engaged by the provincial capitol to establish a technology demonstration site for the twin production of mushroom and vermicast. This is because PGT found out that maximum production of vermicast would be realized by feeding earthworms with shredded banana leaves and rice straws utilized for mushroom culture.

The program includes organic livestock raising, too. Swine and goats are fed with natural feeds and given herbal medicine growth booster hence, the provincial government encourages micro-entrepreneurs to process these as well as other commodities naturally.

In Paniqui for instance, roast pig (lechon) as well as its sauce is prepared with salt as the sole ingredient, and customers who have tried it attest that it tastes better than the lechon prepared with flavorings. In Gerona and Tarlac City meanwhile goat’s milk is processed and packaged naturally.

Also part of the Natural Tarlac program is vegetable zoning, in adherence to the One-Town, One-Product program of the national government. The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist will deem what vegetables each municipality should produce organically based on production area, planting calendar, supply of organic fertilizers, and market demand. A marketing office would be established and mandated to purchase and market organic vegetables at higher price to help farmers boost their profits and earn additional income for the provincial government.

As of now several towns are already specializing in organic vegetable production. Lapaz for instance is getting known for its Japanese Okra, Anao for ylang-yJang essences, Moncada and Paniqui for sweet potato, San Miguel for yellow corn, and Capas for banana. Camiling and Tarlac City, on one hand, are attracting organic goat buyers here and abroad.

Soon, more municipalities will rise as organic vegetable centers as well as organic livestock producers. As of now Tarlac’s agricultural product excellence has already put the province in the map. And in next few years, who knows, Tarlac might be known as country’s center for organic farming.