Lubang Is­land: The fu­ture land of milk and honey?

Agriculture - - Contents - BY JULIO P. YAP, JR.

LUBANG IS­LAND is about 150 kilo­me­ters south­west of Manila, and about twoand-a-half hours’ ride on a pump boat from Na­sugbu in Batan­gas. The is­land mu­nic­i­pal­ity of­fers scenic white sand beaches, pris­tine wa­ters, abun­dant marine life, and un­spoiled beauty. In­ci­den­tally, Lubang Is­land was the place where Hiroo On­oda, a Ja­panese army of­fi­cer, hid in the jun­gles when the Al­lies re­claimed the Philip­pines af­ter World War II, mak­ing him one of the last Ja­panese sol­diers to sur­ren­der.

While fish­ing is the main eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity on Lubang Is­land, the lo­cal farm­ers also en­gage in plant­ing rice, gar­lic, and dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties of veg­eta­bles. It al­ready hosts a con­sid­er­able num­ber of grass­fed cows, and the lo­cal farm­ers have shown great in­ter­est in bee­keep­ing.

How­ever, the ac­tiv­ity is nonex­is­tent on the is­land, and bees are not uti­lized for pol­li­na­tion. The farm­ers may have not re­al­ized that a great per­cent­age of the crops grown for hu­man con­sump­tion need bees to pol­li­nate them to in­crease their yield and the qual­ity of their crops. Ac­cord­ing to Rico Omoyon, bee pol­li­na­tion not only re­sults in a higher num­ber of fruits or seeds, it may also re­sult in a bet­ter qual­ity of pro­duce.

Omoyon, owner of the Milea Bee Farm and a rec­og­nized bee­keep­ing ex­pert, made his first visit to the is­land re­cently with his fam­ily. “It was my first time to be in Lubang, and I could not be­lieve that a much greener pas­ture is there for me to see and ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s green all over. Un­der the lead­er­ship of Mayor Juan M. Sanchez, the is­land also boosts of hav­ing a zero crime rate.”

The idea to visit the is­land came from Ra­mon Poli­car­pio, a mar­ket spe­cial­ist of the Agribusi­ness Divi­sion of the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture-Re­gional Field Of­fice 4B or

MI­MAROPA (Min­doro – Oc­ci­den­tal and Ori­en­tal Min­doro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan). Omoyon said Poli­car­pio has been as­sist­ing the mu­nic­i­pal govern­ment of Lubang with its agri­cul­tural de­vel­op­ment and mar­ket­ing needs.

Dur­ing his visit, Omoyon dis­cov­ered the mayor of Lubang is very sup­port­ive of the idea of in­tro­duc­ing the bee­keep­ing pro­ject to the lo­cal farm­ers. The good news is that Omoyon has no­ticed that the en­vi­ron­ment in and around the scenic is­land mu­nic­i­pal­ity is rich in bee for­age—a plus fac­tor where hon­eypro­duc­ing bees could thrive.

“For the bee­keep­ing pro­gram, we got so ex­cited to see that the en­vi­ron­ment is so rich in bee for­age, prompt­ing us to de­velop a plan to in­tro­duce thou­sands of na­tive honey-pro­duc­ing bee colonies on the is­land,” he said. “Not only that, the en­thu­si­asm and the large turnout of in­ter­ested farm­ers made our visit very fruit­ful.”

Omoyon said it is the ad­vo­cacy of the Milea Bee Farm to pro­mote bee­keep­ing in the Philip­pines, par­tic­u­larly in the coun­try­side. He prefers, when lec­tur­ing about bee­keep­ing to the small farm­ers, to give em­pha­sis on na­tive bees. Their uti­liza­tion, he be­lieves, will al­low for the bee­keep­ing pro­gram to con­tinue even with­out govern­ment in­ter­ven­tion.

How­ever, any form of as­sis­tance com­ing from the lo­cal govern­ment units (LGUs) in­ter­ested in sup­port­ing bee­keep­ing pro­grams will be a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor. “The lo­cal of­fi­cials [could] help in pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to jump­start the bee­keep­ing pro­gram,” he said. He noted though that this fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance might be com­pro­mised once the terms of the con­cerned lo­cal govern­ment of­fi­cials end.

Given that Lubang Is­land is be­ing po­si­tioned as a fu­ture “land of milk and honey,” and the im­por­tance of pol­li­na­tion to the tasks of the lo­cal farm­ers, es­tablsh­ing a bee­keep­ing pro­ject there is poses many po­ten­tial ben­e­fits not just for the farm­ers but also to the com­mu­nity at large. “For the pro­posed pro­ject on Lubang Is­land, we’re so lucky that [Mayor Sanchez] is very sup­port­ive [of] the idea of in­tro­duc­ing bee­keep­ing to his con­stituents,” Omoyon said.

With Lubang Is­land’s prox­im­ity to Manila, the prod­ucts to be de­rived from bee­keep­ing can eas­ily find their way to the mar­kets in the me­trop­o­lis. This will, in turn, be an ad­di­tional in­come source for the small farm­ers and en­thu­si­asts on the is­land.

The bee­keep­ing pro­gram is sched­uled to start in Jan­uary 2016. “We are hop­ing that other lo­cal govern­ment units, or­ga­ni­za­tions, or groups of farm­ers will be­come in­ter­ested and repli­cate this pro­gram,” Omoyon said.

“We will also be pro­vid­ing free bee­keep­ing [ori­en­ta­tion ses­sions] and bee ap­pre­ci­a­tion lec­tures at the dif­fer­ent schools on Lubang Is­land,” he added. The ob­jec­tive is for the stu­dents to be aware of bee­keep­ing and its ben­e­fits so that they can serve as the fu­ture pro­tec­tors of the pol­li­na­tors. “Ba­si­cally, the young and old will BEE in­formed,” Omoyon smiled.

The scenic view from a white sand beach on Lubang Is­land, where the count­less fruit­ing co­conut trees will ben­e­fit from bee­keep­ing, which will, in turn, pro­vide the hon­eypro­duc­ing bees with am­ple for­age.

One of the hilly por­tions on Lubang Is­land which could be­come host to a large colony of bees due to its lush green­ery and wild veg­e­ta­tion.

Photo shows (from left) Bettina and Pa­trick Omoyon; Ra­mon Poli­car­pio, Mar­ket Spe­cial­ist III of the Agribusi­ness Divi­sion of the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­tureRe­gional Field Of­fice 4B; Mu­nic­i­pal So­cial Work De­vel­op­ment Of­fi­cer Jen­nel Tam­pon; Lubang Mayor Juan Sanchez; and Rico and Ediliee Omoyon of the Milea Bee Farm, dur­ing the re­cent meet­ing about the bee­keep­ing pro­ject on Lubang Is­land.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives com­ing from al­most all the barangays in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Lubang at­tended the first-ever bee­keep­ing ori­en­ta­tion and ap­pre­ci­a­tion lecture, which was re­cently con­ducted by the Milea Bee Farm.

A colony of Apis dor­sata (lo­cally known as Pukyu­tan or Pu­tyukan) oc­cu­py­ing a big comb on a mango tree branch.

The Omoyon fam­ily mem­bers (stand­ing from left to right) Pa­trick, Bettina, Edilee, and Rico, in the fa­mous On­oda Cave, to­gether with a tour guide.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.