A Nueva Viz­caya woman farmer is an or­ganic farm­ing pi­o­neer

Agriculture - - Contents - BY ROSE DE LA CRUZ

JULIET BUMOLO MO­RALES grew up in a tra­di­tional farm fam­ily in Ka­sibu, Nueva Viz­caya, where veg­eta­bles, rice, and meat were har­vested fresh from the land. Back then, farm­ers like her par­ents grew her­itage crops, un­til com­mer­cial seeds which promised an as­sured higher yield were in­tro­duced and prop­a­gated them, thus chang­ing their lifestyles al­to­gether.

But Mo­rales de­cided to go back to ba­sics: the her­itage crops, which were not yet called ‘or­ganic’ back then. Her small farm is now home to or­ganic rice, veg­eta­bles, and freerange an­i­mals that feed on the fo­liage gath­ered around the crops and the pests that at­tack them.

Ka­sibu is 10 kilo­me­ters away from Bam­bang, where the Nueva Viz­caya Agri­cul­tural Ter­mi­nal Inc. (NVAT) is lo­cated. NVAT is the vegetable ter­mi­nal where all grow­ers, whether com­mer­cial and or­ganic, bring their pro­duce prior to these be­ing trans­ported to Manila mar­kets like those in Bal­intawak and Divi­so­ria. Though or­ganic farm­ing in­volved dou­ble her cur­rent ef­forts to raise the crops, she found that there was a ready mar­ket for or­ganic veg­eta­bles and that mar­ket is ex­pand­ing ev­ery year.

On Mo­rales’ farm, she plants leeks (la­sona), toma­toes, let­tuce, beans, okra, car­rots, rice, cof­fee, and fruit trees. She also has ducks that eat the snails which dam­age the her­itage rice. When rice har­vest is over, she sells the ducks or feeds them to her fam­ily.

“I need to start [things] so oth­ers may fol­low,” she says humbly of her or­ganic farm, though she is none­the­less con­fi­dent that her neigh­bor­ing farm­ers will fol­low her ex­am­ple soon.

She grows her own food and makes sure her fam­ily eats only the health­i­est of pro­duce from Ka­sibu. “Start small and lead the way” is her motto.

Mo­rales is also ac­tively push­ing or­ganic farm­ing at ev­ery farm­ers’ meet­ing she at­tends where she gets the chance to ad­dress the farm­ers, who flock to such gath­er­ings.

She is a true farmer with a vision as a com­mu­nity leader to make Ka­sibu the best source of or­ganic veg­eta­bles and or­ganic cof­fee.

Mo­rales has sowed over 70,000 cof­fee seedlings to be planted all over the Ka­sibu moun­tains and forests.

In her na­tive prov­ince of Nueva Viz­caya, fruits abound, from Ka­sibu or­anges, the old­est aca­cia tree, fresh veg­eta­bles, and other na­tive fruits. The prov­ince is also home to the old­est church, built in 1776. It is a des­ti­na­tion on its own be­cause it sits on moun­tain ranges and slopes that are more than 300 me­ters above sea level. It is also a place to stop be­fore ar­riv­ing at Banaue, Kalinga, Tugue­garao.

Go­ing to Nueva Viz­caya is like go­ing to Baguio from Manila (a dis­tance of 250 kilo­me­ters) ex­cept lodg­ing, meals, and al­most ev­ery­thing is not as pricey as they are in the sum­mer cap­i­tal. The cli­mate is cool and per­fect for grow­ing cof­fee.

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