Planting a Seed of Hope for Transformation

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Created on Tuesday, 02 April 2013

A thriving city in the south of Cebu, Carcar is still largely agricultural with an estimated  200 farmers growing eggplants. The exposure to use chemicals in spraying eggplants has become a widely accepted practice. Just like Marino Quisa-ot , an eggplant farmer who had been planting for 20 years, realized that somehow he has to be freed from the use of chemicals which has eaten a lion’s share of his supposedly farm income.

Marino accepted to become a cooperator of the technology demonstration on organic eggplant production in May 2012 , not knowing that the demo farm would be instrumental in his  conversion and transformation. Based on technicians’ experience ,convincing farmers to adopt organic technology is an ardous task especially if years of constant practice of chemical farming has become a lifestyle. Some farmers even dip their eggplants just days before harvest in strong chemicals to make the fruit appear healthy. Such practice is prevalent among eggplant producers who opt income without considering the health of their consumers.  

Provision of vermi-compost, probiotic liquid fertilizer and vermi-tea were among the package offered to Marino by the Department of Agriculture ( DA RFU 7)- a prime motivator for accepting a proposal. It is such a well-meaning activity with the goal to increase farmer’s production and income.

A money draining exercise for farmers who engages in chemical farming is the constant purchase of spray or chemicals to combat  pests and diseases. A bottle of chemical fertilizer would cost around Php 300- 500 but if farmers learn to produce their own, that amount to be spent would be converted to savings. Aside from showcasing the organic eggplant production, the demo farm would also determine the cost and return.

Showing the result of the demo farm would certainly give the farmers a second thought to shift from inorganic to organic farming. For a 2,500 sq m area, there was a total yield of 2,064 kgs of eggplants or a total gross income of Php 30,182.25. Total production cost reached Php 22,550 giving Marino a net income of P 7,632.25 or a 33% return of investment. According to Roland Magos, project leader of the demo farm and staff of the DA 7, this is a good performance indicator noting that the soil in Valladolid, Carcar City, has been exposed to excessive use of chemicals in the past.

Ushered in the demo farm were some 100 farmers during the collaborated Farmers’ Field Day in the last quarter of 2012. The technology was not in vain as there are now 25 adoptors or 12% of farmers’ population in Carcar City.

Ricardo Oca, City Agriculturist , is determined to continue planting the seed of hope in the hearts of farmers by establishing demo farms on organic eggplant to other barangays. The pilot area in Valladolid has brought about a positive change in the barangay and he envisions to immerse all barangays in it.

 

Transformation in Consolacion, Cebu

One of the phenomenal decisions of a farmer-cooperator is made by Lourdes Bihag, a widow in Barangay Pulpugan , Consolacion, Cebu, who earns a living by tilling her 3,000 sq m. Her decision was swift and lifetime -she swore never to go back to inorganic farming again.

 Instrumental to her transformation was the excellent result of the demo farm in 2012. So successful was the project that Secretary Proceso Alcala visited her farm . Healthy and well formed ampalayas abounds in the plots. She also found out that organic ampalaya has such a big demand in her municipality and commands higher price than the chemically sprayed ones.

  

Her farm regimen includes applying a vermicast –based organic fertilizer for basal and sidedressing. This is done on a weekly basis with probiotics and vermi-tea application.

 Insects were not a threat to her as she uses Trichogramma evanescence and earwig to control fruit borers. Trellising, mulching to minimize weeds, and pruning added to the success of the demo farm.

 What surprised Lourdes is the obesevation that organic ampalaya has more vigor, and has less pest infestation than the inorganic ampalaya and what’s more, her farm gave her a generous harvest of more than Php 70,000 in 14 harvest cycles with less than 1% of total production considered as rejects.

 Nimfa Davis, assisting technician of the project, said real transformation comes from within, and in the case of the two farmers, Marino and Lourdes, they are paving the path for others to follow.

 The region continues to plant a seed of hope that someday farmers who are still dependent on chemical fertilizers would become messengers for transformation in the region.