Posts Tagged ‘Education for Life Foundation (ELF)’

Naujan’s ‘pure organic’ demo farm yields 4.2 MT of palay

FARMERS in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro are upbeat about going organic after the one-hectare organic demo farm in Barangay Gamao in this top rice-producing town is projected to yield 4.2 metric tons.

Arnulfo Penaverde, project coordinator of the Education for Life Foundation (ELF) for Naujan, said the result of the harvest is encouraging, considering that during the transition phase to organic farming, rice production is supposed to slightly drop.  “This is the other way around in Naujan,” says Penaverde, which supports the DA’s positive rice production outlook for 2009.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap has earlier projected record palay harvest in the first half of the year, which he said would reach 7.3 million metric tons, 200,000 MT more than last year’s first semester output of 7.1 million MT.

Elf is an NGO- partner of the Go Organic! Philippines, a consortium of NGOs led by the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and the La Liga Policy Institute (LLPI), which is implementing the Organic FIELDS Support Program Phase 1.

OFSP Phase 1, which was launched by no less than Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap in November last year, aims to promote organic farming in the Philippines.  A major component of the project is the conduct of a farmers’ training in six towns and cities in Luzon.  This is in preparation for the immediate conversion of 400,000 hectares of rice fields into organic farm sites.

The harvest, one of the highlights of the OFSP Phase I Farmers’ Season-Long Training, was conducted last April 5, 2009 and was witnessed by representatives from the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM).  A total of 153 farmers representing 25 different barangays in the town of Naujan participated in the said training, 114 of which successfully completed the 16-week hands-on training.

“We are very happy with the result.  Farmers who took part in the training were in fact convinced to shift from conventional to organic farming because of the good harvest,” he said.

Penaverde estimated that the production cost for the demo farm, an unirrigated area, at P25,000.  The cost of production includes seeds, labor, organic fertilizer, organic pesticide, and gasoline for the motorized hydraulic pump. A total of 50 bags of organic fertilizers which the farmer-trainers produced during the training were used in the demo farm.  A conventional farm, which makes use of chemical fertilizer, requires at least eight bags worth around 1,000 to P1,200 per 50-kilo bag.  With such cost, total cost of production could reach up to P40,000, including other costs such as seeds pesticide, and gasoline, to come up with almost the same yield.

With the successful harvest and the overwhelming support from local government units (LGUs), Penaverde is confident that more farmers will join the organic bandwagon.

He said to promote organic farming and expand areas using organic fertilizer, a trainors’ training was also conducted, with 30 farmers completing the course.  The 30 trainers, he said, will teach farmers who wants to learn about organic farming and organic fertilizer production.

The town of Naujan, a top rice-producing town in Oriental Mindoro, has 65,000 hectares of agricultural land, 90 percent of which is devoted to rice.

Penaverde said even during the training, so convinced were the farmers that they formed the Mindoro Organic Farmers’ Association (MOFA), whose primary purpose is to promote and advocate organic farming in the entire province.

Naujan is one of the six towns and cities chosen as pilot areas for the project.  Part of the project is to put up a demo farm for the Farmers’ Season-Long Training where at least 100 farmers in each of the six towns and cities in Luzon are trained on various organic farming systems and technologies, including organic fertilizer production.

The organic fertilizers produced by the farmers during their training, which started last December 21, were used in the demo farm, Penaverde said.

“This only proves that organic farming works wonders,” lawyer Atty. Efren Moncupa, lead convenor of Go Organic! Philippines.

Moncupa, an organic farming practitioner himself, stressed the need for farmers to shift from conventional farming to the more sustainable organic farming to reduce cost, citing the high cost of imported chemical fertilizers.

“During these trying times, the only way for farmers to survive the global economic crisis to veer away from agrochemical agriculture, produce their own fertilizer which can be sourced from their farm such as animal manure, rice hull and rice straw, without necessarily sacrificing output,” he said.