100 Bataan farmers say no to chemical, yes to organic fertilizer

CONVINCED by the economic viability of going organic, 100 farmers from Samal and Dinalupihan, Bataan vowed to shift to organic farming boosting government effort to massive convert conventional farms into organic farm sites.

The farmers, who bonded together to form the Samalenyo Organiko in Samal and Organisaka Dinalupihan, made their commitment during the Farmers’ Field Day in Bataan last Saturday.

The Farmers’ Field Day held in Dinalupihan, Bataan is one of the highlights and the culmination of the Farmers’ Season-Long Training, one of the components of the Organic FIELDS Support Program Phase 1 (OFSP1), a partnership project with the Department of Agriculture (DA) led by Secretary Arthur Yap through the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM).

The farmers who received their certificate of completion for the training, harvested 1,500 sq. m of palay from the ‘balanced fertilization’ learning-demo farm in Dinalupihan, Bataan.

Representatives from the DA and the BSWM, along with proponents of Go Organic! Philippines, which is implementing the OFSP1, witnessed the harvest.

Laywer Atty. Efren Moncupa, lead convenor of Go Organic! Philippines who hails in Barangay Pagalanggang, Dinalupihan, Bataan said organic farming is beneficial to farmers not only in terms of increased income, but health and environment, as well.

“Organic farming is not an easy way out of poverty, but it will definitely boost farmers’ income and benefit not only farmers, but the consumers who will finally enjoy eating chemical-free food and enjoy living in a less-polluted environment,” he said.

Nomer Palad, Vice President of Samalenyong Organiko said organic farming offers a lasting solution to the problem brought about by the skyrocketing cost of petrochemical-based fertilizers, which now costs around P1,000 to P1,200 per 50-kilo bag.  In conventional farming, farmers need to buy at least eight to 10 bags to produce 5.5 metric tons of palay.

“Using organic fertilizer, we can lower production cost without necessarily cutting down our yield.  It is difficult at first but we learned the virtue of hard work during the training and it really pays off,” he said.

For his part, Pedro Malit, President of Organisaka Dinalupihan said by veering away from excessive agrochemical inputs in their farm, farmers can be assured that their unproductive farmland will become productive once more, as organic fertilizer regenerates essential soil nutrients needed by the plant to grow.

“In organic farming, we can actually help protect the environment because organic fertilizer doesn’t cause pollution like the way chemical fertilizers do.  It even promotes sustainable agriculture because farmers can produce their own organic fertilizer.  We don’t have do borrow money to buy those chemical fertilizer,” he said.

The OFSP1 is being implemented by the Go Organic! Philipines, a consortium of nongovernment organizations led by the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and La Liga Policy Institute (LLPI), to promote organic farming in the Philippines.

A major component of the program is to train 600 farmers in six pilot towns and cities in Luzon which include Samal and Dinalupihan in preparation for the massive conversion of rice fields into organic farm sites.  The DA is targeting to convert 400,000 hectares into organic farm sites by 2010.

A total of 100 farmers completed the training, some of who have vowed to go organic next cropping season, saying using organic fertilizer which they can produce from materials found in their farms such animal manure, rice straw and carbonized rice hull, is a lot better than chemical fertilizer, which costs around P1,000 per 50-kilo bag.

During their training which started last December 21, 2009, the farmers learned various organic farming systems and technologies including organic fertilizer production using raw materials found in their farm such as rice straw and rice hull, animal manure and other agricultural waste using bokashi, a Japanese term for compost, which they used in the one-hectare demo farms in Samal, and Dinalupihan, Bataan.

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