Agriculture - - Currents - >BY DR. RAFAEL D. GUER­RERO III

THERE ARE an es­ti­mated 1.8 mil­lion hectares of grass­lands in our coun­try, ac­cord­ing to a 1987 re­port of the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources. Such ar­eas are usu­ally dom­i­nated by “co­gon” ( Im­per­at­a­cylin­drica) and other grasses. The con­ver­sion of grass­lands into pas­tures for cat­tle farm­ing and fruit tree grow­ing has been done for the pur­pose of im­prov­ing land pro­duc­tiv­ity. One other de­vel­op­ment is con­vert­ing grass­lands into agri-tourism and na­ture parks such as the Guer­rero Farm and Na­ture Park (GFNP) in Tal­isay City, Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal. Lo­cated at the foothills of Mt. Makaw­ili in Barangay Ca­batan­gan, about 23 kilo­me­ters east of Ba­colod City, the GFNP is a sprawl­ing 34-hectare for­mer grass­land area op­er­ated by En­gi­neer Vi­cente “Boy” Guer­rero and wife Haze­lyn in part­ner­ship with Guer­rero’s seven sib­lings, who in­her­ited the land from their late fa­ther, lawyer-sur­veyor Rafael Guer­rero, Sr. (my pa­ter­nal grand­fa­ther).

“When I was a boy, your grand­fa­ther would send me up here by foot to col­lect our share of the fruits pro­duced by a ten­ant,” my un­cle told me.“It was only about 10 years ago when my broth­ers and sis­ters de­cided to put up this com­monly-owned farm and leisure place for family use only be­fore but [which is] now open to the pub­lic. My brother in-law, Casiano, the hus­band of your Aun­tie Ruby, who is an agri­cul­tur­ist, en­cour­aged me to go into farm­ing.”

“We had to haul up truck­loads of com­post which we pro­duced in Ba­colod City for many years to re­ju­ve­nate thetop soil here with or­ganic mat­ter to make the land pro­duc­tive not only for fruit trees­but also for veg­eta­bles and or­na­men­tal plants,” my un­cle added. “We now have more 300 full-bear­inglan­zones, durian, rambu­tan, and man­gos­teen trees in ad­di­tion to nu­mer­ous pine and other ev­er­green trees.”

To­day, the GFNP boasts of a spring-fed swim­ming pool, rest houses with pri­vate rooms, cafeteria, multi-pur­pose hall, and recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties not only for daily or week­end visi­tors but also for cor­po­rate groups who wish to have work­shops and team-build­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. At an el­e­va­tion of 1,500 feet above sea level, one can over­look Ba­colod City, the Guimaras Straight and even the Ba­colod-Si­lay Air­port while en­joy­ing the 20-22 de­grees Cel­sius moun­tain air.

What’s more, the GFNP also has a pond where an­glers can fish for tilapia, an area for horse­back rid­ing, and pic­nic/camp­ing grounds. Free-range turkeys, chick­ens, and ducks are also just wait­ing for visi­tors to feed them. And for those who love or­na­men­tals, a walk through the many rows of ex­otic

A sig­nage of the Guer­rero Farm and Na­ture Park.

My Un­cle Boy be­side the pond where one can fish for tilapia. Be­hind it are trees planted in the for­mer grass­land.

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