Archive for January, 2009

Still reeling from onslaught of typhoon “Reming” Oriental Mindoro town mayor urges farmers to go organic to survive crisis

STILL reeling from the devastation of typhoon “Reming” and the perennial problem from pests such as rats and birds, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro Mayor Romar G. Marcos is urging farmers to shift from conventional to organic farming to survive the looming global financial crisis.

Pinning his hopes on organic farming for farmers to recover from their heavy losses as a result of the typhoon, Marcos vowed to include organic farming, particularly organic fertilizer production, in the Annual Investment Plan of the municipality.

“This will institutionalize budget for organic farming,” he said.

The mayor visited the on-going Season Long Training under the Organic FIELDS Support Program (OFSP) Phase 1 of the Department of Agriculture (DA) which is being implemented by the Go Organic! Philippines, a consortium of nongovernmental organizations led by the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and La Liga Policy Institute (LLPI).

Naujan is one of the seven pilot areas of the OFSP Phase 1, which aims to popularize organic farming in the country, particularly rice – the country’s staple food.

As part of the program, the season-long training, which started last December 21, hopes to empower some 100 farmers’ knowledge in organic farming systems and technologies, including organic fertilizer production.

“The farmers can substantially reduce farm production costs by using organic fertilizers. We are encouraging them to shift to organic farming,” he said.

The mayor stressed that organic fertilizers can be produced by farmers.

“Our farmers need to learn more about organic farming. Organic fertilizer production can actually help them survive from the ongoing crisis,” he said.

The local government provides 100% seed subsidy to farmers. However, because most farmers rely heavily on imported fertilizer which costs around P1,200 to P1,500 per bag, local officials are encouraging them to use organic fertilizers instead, which the farmers can produce using various techniques.

“They can make their own organic fertilizers through composting, using animal manure which they can find in their farm. They can even sell them,” Marcos added.

A bag of organic fertilizer which is commercially available costs P350.

The onslaught of typhoon “Reming” has severely affected farmers who complain that because of the heavy losses, they may not be able hit the town’s rice production target.

The Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO) of Naujan estimated the damage to rice and other crops at P17 million by typhoon Reming, which hit Southern Tagalog from November 30 to December 31, 2006.

Naujan, one of the top rice-producing towns in Oriental Mindoro, produces an average of 3.5 metric tons per hectare of rice.

The Naujan local chief executive said aside from the perennial problem of floods, rat and bird infestation, skyrocketing cost of farm inputs, particularly imported fertilizer, is adding burden to the farmers’ woes.

“With the devastation brought by Reming, we need to adopt measures that offer long-term solution to our problems,” he said, adding that a policy shift that will promote sustainable agriculture such as organic farming in lieu of conventional farming which relies heavily on petrochemical-based farm inputs might do the trick.

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Guimba, Nueva Ecija mayor, farmers bat for ‘organic’ farming support system

Guimba, Nueva Ecija Mayor Jose Francis Stevens M. Dizon is calling for the establishment of support systems for organic farming to convince more farmers to shift from conventional to organic farming.

Dizon said extending credit support to farmers who want to shift to organic farming is one important way to boost national and local government efforts to promote organic farming in the Philippines.

“We need to put up an effective organic (farming) support system to make organic farming work,” he said.

Dizon is eyeing the conversion of at least 10% of the town’s 15,096 hectares rice farm or approximately 1,501 hectares into organic farm sites as part of his commitment to the Organic FIELDS Support Program (OFSP).

The program launched last December by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and its line agency, Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) aims to promote sustainable agriculture through organic farming, targeting the conversion of 10% of the country’s 1.9 million hectares rice farm into organic farm sites by 2010.

The OFSP Phase 1 is implemented by the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and La Liga Policy Institute (LLPI) and partner nongovernment and people’s organizations, initially in seven towns and cities chosen as pilot areas, where one-hectare learning farms were established as part of the season-long training of rice farmers on organic or nature farming.

Guimba, one of the LGU-partners, is a chiefly agricultural town and has the biggest land area devoted to food production in Nueva Ecija. It is considered one of the biggest contributors to the province’s so-called “rice bowl”.

Dizon is supporting the initial gains of a group of farmers in Nueva Ecija, which convinced the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) to extend loans to farmers who wish to go organic.

He was referring to the initiative of the Kooperatibang Likas ng Nueva Ecija or KOOL-NE, which in 2004, was able to convince Land Bank and PCIC to extend loans to members of the cooperative who wish to use organic fertilizer.

Before, Land Bank’s loan package is limited to certified seeds and agro-chemicals, according to farmer Mario Imperio, president of the Bukluran ng Magsasaka sa Likas-Kayang Teknolohiya and a member of KOOL-NE.

The mayor said other government financing institutions, as well as private financing institutions should do the same to promote organic farming, which he said is key to achieving sustainable agriculture not only in Guimba, but the province and the entire country, as well.

Also, as part of his commitment in promoting organic farming, Dizon said the construction of the Materials Recover Facility (MRF) which will start in March this year will be designed to support the campaign by producing organic fertilizer from compost materials that will be recovered from the waste facility.

“For its first year of operation, we will distribute the organic fertilizer that we will produce from the operation of the MRF to the farmers for free,” he said.

Part of the training under OFSP Phase 1 is to teach farmers how to produce organic fertilizer and organic pesticide, which the farmers can use in their farms instead of the more expensive chemical-based fertilizer that farmers use in conventional farming.

Alaminos City’s top agriculture official into organic farming

Alaminos City’s top agriculture official is leading the campaign to promote organic farming. And she does it quite well, as Arceli Talania leads by example by going organic after assuming the post as Officer-in-Charge of the City Agriculture Office.

A graduate of Bachelor in Science – Agriculture major in Entomology at the Benguet State University, formerly known as the Mountain State Agricultural College, Talania is now tasked to convince the city’s 3,000 rice farmers and around 1,800 others who are into production of various crops to go organic, as the city bats to become a major producer of organic rice, vegetables and other agricultural products and byproducts.

Talania, a Barangay Kagawad in Amang Bangan converted her own farm into an organic farm site, making use of kitchen wastes as well as organic compost as fertilizers.

“Farmers will not believe me if I will not practice what I preach. That’s why I am now into organic farming, to show them that it really works,” she said.

Alaminos City is chiefly agricultural, with approximately 4,000 of the 8,020 hectares of land devoted to rice production. Since 2000, Alaminos City has been rice-self sufficient, maintaining an average yield of 3.5 tons to 5.5 tons per hectare.

Talania is providing technical training to farmers, including almost 200 who are now enrolled in the Season Long Training under the Organic FIELDS Support Program Phase 1 which is being supported by Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza’s administration along with other project partners such as the Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Soils and Water Management, the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, and the La Liga Policy Institute.

The training aims to empower farmers with knowledge about various organic farming systems and technologies which they can apply in their farm.

This includes organic fertilizer and organic pesticide production.

Braganza said more than an increase in rice production; he hopes to make farmers middle income earners through organic farming.

Aside from increasing farmers’ income, he said organic farming promotes better health and environment, not only for the food producers, but consumers as well.

“Most of our farmers are already into balanced fertilization. The scheme makes use of both organic and inorganic fertilizer. My task is to convince farmers to shift to pure organic.

According to Talania, organic farming is widely accepted in Alaminos City. From 27 farmers who started to use organic fertilizer two years ago, almost all of the city’s 3,000 rice farmers are now into balanced fertilization. So far, she said only five farmers are into pure organic farming.

“Our vision is to make all our farmers organic farmers, starting with me.” she said.

Alaminos’ top rice, veggie producer shifting to organic farming

Alaminos City’s top rice and vegetable producers are shifting to organic farming to cut costs and increase their income.

They believe that even a slight reduction in their average yield during the transition period is worth it, citing the potential benefits to health and environment other than increase in income.

Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza is encouraging the city’s more than 3,000 rice and vegetable farmers to go organic in support of the Organic FIELDS Support Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM).

The program, which is being implemented by the Go Organic! Philippines, a consortium of nongovernment organization led by the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and La Liga Policy Institute (LLPI), promotes sustainable agriculture through organic farming.

Citing its many benefits to farmers namely income, health and environment, farmers believe it is time to shift from conventional to organic farming, especially when fertilizer prices remain unstable and unpredictable.

One of the city’s top rice producers, Jaime Navarro of Barangay Tawin Tawin, said he is shifting to organic and nature farming this year, saying he wants to break his dependence from petrochemical-based fertilizer.

He started to use commercial organic fertilizer in 2003 in his two-hectare rice field, making use of the balanced fertilizations scheme. Under this scheme, a percentage of chemical fertilizers inputs of a farm are replaced with organic fertizers eventually fully shifting to full organic.

Two years after, he was awarded as an outstanding farmer by Alaminos City for being a top rice producer. He harvested an average of 10.2 metric tons, using 70% organic fertilizer and 30% chemical-based fertilizer.

Now, he said he plans to shift to nature farming by using compost which he produced from biodegradable materials found in his farm as fertilizer.

A civil engineering graduate of the University of Bagio, Navarro who became a farmer scientist after a crash course at the Ilocos Agricultural Resources – Research and Development Consortium, said he learned that by reducing the cost of farm production, he could actually increase his income, without necessarily sacrificing production.

“At first, my intention was to lower farm cost. Aside from the economic benefits of using organic fertilizer, which actually increased my income, I later learned that organic or nature farming is better. It is safe and environment-friendly,” he said.

He said he will also make use of nature farming in his 1,000 sq. m “pinakbet” farm this year. “Pinakbet” was coined by local farmers for vegetable farm devoted to production of main ingredient of the favorite Ilocano dish, which include talong, sitaw, okra, kamatis and kalabasa.

Veronico Versola, 55, of Barangay Pugal Pugal, a top vegetable producer is also shifting to organic farming this year. He has been into balanced fertilization since 2002.

In 2006, he was also awarded as one of the city’s outstanding vegetable farmer after he was able to net P116,000 from his 5,000 sq. m “pinakbet” farm.

Stimulus Fund

THE P2.5 Billion economic stimulus package for food production should be geared towards the promotion of sustainable agriculture that will generate jobs and livelihood opportunities in rural communities.

Central to this is the much-needed comprehensive rural development package that will strengthen Philippine agriculture such as infrastructure development, including the construction of more farm-to-market roads, new irrigation facilities; repair and rehabilitation of existing ones; construction of more postharvest facilities to reduce postharvest losses while promoting sustainable agriculture through organic farming, Efren Moncupa, lead convenor of Go Organic! Philippines said.

Moncupa said the practice of organic farming or nature farming will also require the production of organic farm inputs such as organic fertilizer and organic pesticides that are sourced locally, farmers will be lured to venture into organic fertilizer and organic pesticide production to meet the expected increase in their demand.

“This could eventually start a new industry, which could provide livelihood opportunities and generate jobs in rural communities,” Efren Moncupa, lead convenor of Go Organic! Philippines said.

Moncupa said the recent policy pronouncement of the Department of Agriculture (DA) – which focuses on the shift from conventional farming which is highly-dependent on petrochemical-based fertilizer to the more sustainable organic farming should be seriously taken into consideration.

The major policy shift, which was announced no less by Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap during the launch of the Go Organic! Campaign late last year, to prepare for the immediate conversion of 10 percent of the 1.9 million hectares of rice land into organic farm sites in the country, should be sustained, Moncupa said.

The Go Organic! campaign is being implemented by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and its line bureau, the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) in partnership with the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and La Liga Policy Institute (LLPI) and other nongovernment organizations and people’s organization under the Organic FIELDS Support Program Phase 1 (OFSP).

FIELDS or Fertilizer, Irrigation and other rural infrastructure like farm-to-market roads, Education and extension work, Loans, Dryers and other post-harvest facilities, and Seeds is the DA’s main thrust to achieve the country’s rice self-sufficiency target.

“If we are to pump-prime the economy through agricultural intervention, going organic is the way to go, because of its benefits not only to farmers in terms of income, health and environment, but to the national economy as well,” he said.

Moncupa said substantially reducing the country’s dependence on imported fertilizer will require the massive production of organic fertilizer and organic pesticides.

To encourage farmers to venture into organic fertilizer and organic pesticides production, he said the government should initiate more capacity-building seminars and training that will empower the farmers with the technical know-how to start their own business.

In the long run, Moncupa said support services should also be designed for the expected increase in production of organically-grown agricultural products, particularly rice, fruits and vegetables, which will require the establishment of postharvest facilities for organic agricultural produce, to ensure that the will be free from contamination from other agricultural produce that were applied with chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

“That way, we will have more micro-entrepreneurs in rural communities, more than just farmers,” he said.

Braganza eyeing to make rice, veggie farmers middle-income earners

SAYING organic products commands higher price, Alaminos City mayor Hernani Braganza is urging rice and vegetable farmers to shift to organic farming to increase their level of income.

Braganza is eyeing to make farmers middle-income earners by encouraging farmers to shift from conventional farming which is highly dependent on petrochemical-based fertilizer and pesticides to the more sustainable organic or nature farming, which makes use of organic fertilizer.

Anticipating that the shift from organic farming might cause a slight reduction in their annual rice production output during the transition phase, Braganza said he is also encouraging middle income earners in the city to engage in rice and vegetable production.

“In the immediate, producing organic rice and other agri produce will result in increase in income,” he said, explaining that organic commands a higher price in the market and the cost of farming inputs are substantially reduced.

Braganza said once middle income earners engage in organic farming, the city will be able to generate jobs and actually help boost the national economy.

“Imagine if middle income earners engage in organic rice or high value commercial crops; Alaminos will not be only producing food for its own but for nearby towns and cities in Pangasinan and the rest of Luzon.

He said by encouraging farmers to produce their own organic fertilizer, they can actually cut the cost of production, thus increasing their income. He added that farmers may even venture into organic fertilizer and pesticide production which can generate additional revenue for the farmers.

“In Alaminos, it’s not just about increasing production, but more about increasing farmers’ income,” he said, adding that aside from increase in income, organic farming will benefit farmers in terms of better health and better environment.

Alaminos City, one of the proponents of the Organic FIELDS Support Program (OFSP), recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) to promote organic farming in the Philippines.

The campaign, dubbed Go Organic! is being implemented by the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and the La Liga Policy Institute (LLPI) together with local nongovernment organization (NGO) and people’s organization partners.

FIELDS or Fertilizer, Irrigation and other rural infrastructure like farm-to-market roads, Education and extension work, Loans, Dryers and other post-harvest facilities, and Seeds is the DA’s main thrust to achieve the country’s rice self-sufficiency target.

This is in preparation for the immediate conversion of 10 percent of the country’s 1.9 million hectare rice farms into organic farm sites.

“We can proudly say that in Alaminos City, we have a better working environment for our farmers,” he said, noting that most of the farmers have been practicing balanced fertilization as they realize the benefit of using organic fertilizer which is a lot cheaper than imported synthetic fertilizers in their farms.

Braganza, a former secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said agriculture, particularly farming, is still the predominant way of life of majority of the people, even though its tourism industry is already booming.

He said by going organic, farmers will also benefit from the substantially reduction in the volume of toxic chemicals that they use in their farm. “These chemicals go back to the ocean and we all know that is killing our marine resources,” he said.

The city is home to the famous “Hundred Island”, a prime tourist destination which attracts both foreign and local tourists.

Dinalupihan batting to be major producer of organically-grown agri produce

MAYOR Joel Jaime F. Payumo of Dinalupihan, Bataan is eyeing the massive conversion of the town’s close to 2,800-hectare rice farms into organic farming sites as the town bats to become a major producer of organically-grown agricultural products and by-products.

To convince farmers to gradually shift from conventional to organic farming, Payumo has allotted P150,000 to provide soft loans to the area’s 1,600 farmers.

He lauded Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap for coming up with a program that will promote sustainable agriculture, believing that shifting from conventional farming, which is highly-dependent on petrochemical based farm inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides to the more sustainable organic farming will not only improve rice production but will actually lessen production cost that will benefit the farmers.

“I support organic farming because of its benefits to farmers. Aside from the economic opportunity of going organic, it also promotes good agricultural practices because it does not make use of harmful chemicals, therefore it is good to the health and environment,” he said.

Payumo recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Agriculture and proponents of Go Organic! Philippines to promote organic farming.

Go Organic! Philippines through its affiliates, the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and the La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga), is taking the lead in implementing Phase 1 of the Organic FIELDS Support Program (OPSF) in partnership with the Department of Agriculture through the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM).

The group started its season long training to 50 farmers last December 21 and has put up a 500 sq. m. organic learning farm for the purpose.

FIELDS or Fertilizer, Irrigation and other rural infrastructure like farm-to-market roads, Education and extension work, Loans, Dryers and other post-harvest facilities, and Seeds is the DA’s main thrust to achieve the country’s rice self-sufficiency target.

As part of his commitment to the program, Payumo has ordered the municipal agriculturist to provide an all-out support to the DA and the project proponents.

Dinalupihan is primarily an agricultural town whose main resources are palay, sugar cane, corn, root crops, legumes and fruits including livestock and poultry.

Dinalupihan is the only town in Bataan that does not have a shoreline. It is also the second smallest in terms of land area , with 4,460 hectares. The municipality, however, manages to produce sufficient rice for its constituents living in all of its 46 barangays.

However, he said almost all farmers use inorganic fertilizer, which explains why many remain poor despite their good harvests.

According to Payumo the income of farmers remain low, because of the cost of fertilizer.

According to Fidel Felipe, the municipal agriculturist of Dinalupihan, Bataan, per hectare yield of rice farmers is at 4.8 metric tons or an an average yield of 85 to 90 cavans. But the production cost sometimes reaches up to P36,000.

Payumo said the technical support and training provided by the DA will empower farmers with knowledge about organic farming.

“Without the technology from the DA and partners, we will not succeed,” he said, referring to the effort of the municipal government to help increase farmers’ income without necessarily sacrificing production.

Felipe said the local government provides subsidy to farmers and has started to allocate a substantial amount to organic farming.

Last year, he said the local government allotted P100,000 to train farmers on organic farming systems and technologies in partnership with the Bataan Peninsula State University.