Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Out-of-school Kids Learn 3Rs and Farming

Some 160 out-of-school youths aged 13 to 23 are learning to read and write as well as the basics of organic farming at the Aces Natural Farming Institute in Panabo City in Davao del Norte.

The kids, male and female, come from different regions all over Mindanao and two regions in the Visayas. They are under the program called ATI-P or Academic and Technology Integrated Program which is part of the alternative learning system.

The kids study for a period of six months. They stay on campus with their own sleeping quarters and are provided three meals daily and other basic needs like toothbrush, soap, etc.

The project is a program initiated by the Agriculture Training Institute aimed at giving an opportunity for poor kids whose families can’t afford to send them to school. The idea is to equip them with self-confidence as well as academic and technical know-how. In the end they could become productive farmers or entrepreneurs in their own communities. It is one way of encouraging the youth to go into agriculture.

Every day, the kids attend classes where they are taught writing, reading, arithmetic plus good manners and right conduct. Part of the same day, they go through lectures as well as hands-on activities in agriculture.

The schedule is like this. Upon waking up at five in the morning, they take coffee and then proceed to their assignments which could be feeding the chickens or pigs or tending their vegetable garden. Then at 8 o’clock they take their breakfast. They could then attend practical activities under the roofed training hall where they could be mixing potting media for seedlings or mixing feeds for the pigs. By 10 o’clock they will be attending their reading and writing classes.

The schedule has been patterned after the usual schedule of farmers. They work early and then rest when it becomes too hot in the field. It’s not all work and study, however. They also engage in sports like basketball, singing, dancing and other recreational activities.

Dr. Frank dela Peña,founder of Aces Polytechnic Colleges and the Aces Natural Farming Institute, is a practical educator and an advocate of natural farming. He said that the kids will learn five technical competencies, namely: hog farming, chicken raising, organic fertilizer production, organic vegetable production and making organic concoctions and extracts used in growing plants and animals.

In the latter three months of the program, they will also be taught techniques in processing their harvests from their crops and their pigs and chickens.

The cost of the six months training which is about P21,000 is shouldered by the Agricultural Training Institute.

Dr. Dela Peña notes that when the out-of-school youths arrived last April, they were very reticent and reserved. Today they are outgoing. And whenever they meet a visitor, they would smile and never fail to say “good morning sir” or “good morning ma’am”. If you ask them what they have learned, they can tell you, too.

Source: http://www.mb.com.ph/out-of-school-kids-learn-3rs-and-farming/
Written by: Zac Sarian


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Leading the Way in Organic Farming

BIOS Dynamis has strengthened its efforts in keeping its advocacy to promote sustainable bio-dynamic and organic farming and establishing marketing outlets for farmers.

Bios Dynamis of Don Bosco Multipurpose Cooperative is a social enterprise venture of Mindanao-based non-government organization, the Don Bosco Foundation for Sustainable Development Inc. (DBFSDI).

Bios Dynamis, as a chain of shops based in Mindanao that specializes in organic products grown by over a 400 farmer-partners in South and North Cotabato, covering 500 hectares of agricultural area, trained farmers how to conserve, breed and develop their own seeds essentially freeing them from agro-chemicals.

"We wanted a more responsible mode of farming, one that does not only take care of Earth, but also gives farmers a chance to have a better quality of life by ensuring that all their produce will go to the market," Bios Dynamis General Manager Romano S. Laurilla said.

Rice, as its flagship product, caters to an ever-growing market demand for healthy, environmentally friendly and socially responsible products.

Its rice is available in three varieties/colors: black, brown and red. The three colored organic rice are all whole-grain and unpolished, where the highly nutritious and beneficial layer of bran is retained through single-pass milling process.

To ensure the 100 percent chemical-free products, Bios Dynamis constantly monitors its internal and external system.

"Aside from we have organic certification, we have this internal and external monitoring system, from production to processing to market. We really see to it that the integrity of our products is maintained with the help of our farmers," Laurilla said.

Bios Dynamis is known for introducing sustainable way of farming such as bio-dynamic and organic farming.

"In our production system, we manage ourselves to acquire a deeper knowledge on how organic and bio-dynamic farming is related to earth, solar system and galaxy. In this form of agriculture, we do it in such a natural way to see the soil as a real living organism and the environment and people as our partner," Laurilla added.

Bios Dynamis also offers honey, tea granules, jam and juices, and natural beauty products, among others.

Bios Dynamis is also planning to expand its production area in Mindanao and grow its farmer-partners as the demand for its organic products in local and international market rises.

Source: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/davao/local-news/2015/05/31/leading-way-organic-farming-410596
Written by: Ace June Rell S. Perez


Solsona Leads in Vermiculture in Ilocos Norte

Solsona is a third class town in Ilocos Norte with a population of about 23,000 many of them farmers who grow rice, corn and vegetables. Most of them are smallholders so they don’t really earn much from their farms.

But many of them are better off now, thanks to the earthworms they are culturing to produce organic fertilizer. Solsona has now become the number one producer of vermicompost in Ilocos Norte produced by more than 500 farmers who are members of a cooperative.

In 2013, the Bureau of Soils and Water Management of the Department of Agriculture gave the town an award that included cash for having been the No.2 producer of vermicompost in the entire Philippines. The No.1 was a town in Nueva Ecija.

Vermicomposting started in earnest in 2011 under the leadership of former Mayor Joseph de Lara. It happened that the year before, Mayor De Lara visited the Philippine Carabao Center in Nueva Ecija where he came to know about vermicomposting. He thought that if the technology could be adopted by his constituents, they will no longer have to buy expensive chemical fertilizers for their crops.

What he did was to have the farmers trained on the technique of vermicomposting although not a few of them were not easily convinced. The farmers were given starter kits of one kilo of earthworms, teaching them to prepare the vermiculture bins and preparation of the farm wastes to feed the earthworms.

It did not take long for the farmers to realize that vermicomposting was good for them. They were able to produce the fertilizer they applied to their farms and also had extra to sell. In a culture period of 45 days, the one kilo of earthworms would have produced five bags of vermicompost worth P1,250 plus additional five kilos of earthworms which the farmers could either sell or use for their own operations. A kilo sells for as much as P500 in the market.

According to Mayor Jonathan de Lara who succeeded his father in 2013, they formed a cooperative that is supervised by the local government. The co-op buys all the excess vermicompost production of the farmers. But to make sure the vermicompost meets quality standards, it passes through a mechanical shaker-strainer provided by the local government. That’s to make sure the particles are small, more or less uniform and of the right moisture content.

As Solsona has become known as a producer of vermicompost, the organic fertilizer has been sold to farmers or cooperatives in other towns of the province and even outside Ilocos Norte. The Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) has also become a big help in demonstrating the efficacy of organic fertilizer in farming through its Expanded Modified Rapid Composting Project (EMRCP).

The BSWM put up demonstration farms in farmers’ fields using vermicompost bought from the cooperative. During the first season, BSWM bought 1,000 bags of vermicompost from the co-op worth 250,000 for use in the demo farm of 100 hectares. In the succeeding season, the BSWM increased the demo area to 200 hectares which means using P500,000 worth of vermicompost.

At harvest time, farmers are invited to a field day to see the good yield from fields fertilized with vermicompost. According to Mayor De Lara, there is not much difference in the yield of organically fertilized rice fields and those fertilized with chemicals. The big difference is that the farmers made much bigger profit because the cost of production was reduced. It was also observed that the grains of the organically fertilized rice were heavier.

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AANI FARM TOUR, JUNE 14 – Another farm tour by AANI will be held on June 14, a Sunday. The participants will visit the dragon fruit farm of Edna Sanchez in Jalajala, Rizal.

The farm boasts of 8,000 hills that have been fruiting as early as April this year. Aside from fresh fruits, the farm has come up with dragon fruit sweet wine and vinegar. Another product is yellow ketchup made of squash which is also good as salad dressing. Reservations may be made at the AANI office at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.

Source: http://www.mb.com.ph/solsona-leads-in-vermiculture-in-ilocos-norte/
Written by: Zac Sarian


PH First Organic Trading Center in Nueva Vizcaya Starts Operation

Photo from www.trekearth.com
Built to boost organic farming in the country, the first organic trading center in the Philippines is now operational and ready to cater to farmers, traders, and buyers of organic agricultural products.

Located in Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya, Cagayan Valley Regional Organic Trading Center (ROTC) is an P18-million facility established to provide production assistance, semi-processing facilities, marketing promotion and trading facilities for organic agricultural products.

The facility was built within the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) 183-hectare Nueva Vizcaya Experiment Station, which also produces organic livestock, cutflower and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)-certified vegetables.

Specifically, ROTC has an agribusiness development center, organic native chicken production center, administration building, fruit processing and packaging building, wild pig conservation and production center, and a GAP vegetable production area.

The center also has function halls and dormitories to accommodate organic farming practitioners for training.

DA Secretary Proceso Alcala said the center will be a model to promote holistic, sustainable, inclusive agricultural growth through organic farming in the country.

“We cannot discount the role of organic farming in improving the health of the soil, the environment and our people,” Alcala, who is also the author of RA 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, said.

He added that despite difficulties, the organic agriculture movement in the country and around the world continues to grow.

“The country’s volume of organic production increased from 4,500 metric tons in 2009 to 27,000 metric tons in 2014,” Alcala said.

However, he pointed out that the country has much work left to do to convert at least 5 percent of its 9.671 million hectares of agricultural lands into organic farms.

He said the ROTC is seen to spur interest in, and serve as a model on increasing organic agriculture production and trading in the country.

He also acknowledged that there are problems being faced by the organic agriculture industry such as costly third party certification, insufficient supply of organic planting materials and lack of transport and trading equipment but DA has already put up programs to challenge these.

Among interventions provided by the DA are organic agriculture training programs, techno demo farms, organic farming facilities and implements, and subsidy for third party certification.

Source: http://www.mb.com.ph/ph-first-organic-trading-center-in-nueva-vizcaya-starts-operation/
Written by: Madelaine B. Miraflor

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