COM­PACT FARMS ARE VI­ABLE AND SUS­TAIN­ABLE

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

Com­pact farm or small-scale agri­cul­ture proved to be vi­able and sus­tain­able for Fran­cis Neil Pe­dralvez who in­tro­duced the Busi­ness Farm Pro­to­type in his model farm. He is en­cour­ag­ing small farm­ers to adopt the con­cept of the ‘three crop rule’ for a sus­tain­able and ef­fi­cient agri­cul­tural devel­op­ment in the coun­try; af­ter all, ma­jor­ity of the fresh pro­duce comes from smallscale agri­cul­ture, thus, con­tribut­ing to feed­ing the grow­ing ur­ban house­holds.

Even the Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion of the United Na­tions has em­pha­sized that the small farm­ers, par­tic­u­larly the women and the young, are a vi­tal el­e­ment in re­duc­ing poverty and im­prov­ing global food se­cu­rity.

Af­ter all, ma­jor­ity of the fresh food comes from small-scale agri­cul­ture, thus, con­tribut­ing to feed­ing the grow­ing ur­ban house­holds.

With this in mind, Fran­cis Neil T. Pe­dralvez has in­tro­duced a Busi­ness Farm Pro­to­type, which is a paradigm for a sus­tain­able and ef­fi­cient agri­cul­tural devel­op­ment in the coun­try.

Pe­dralvez says the project aims to ac­tu­al­ize a sus­tain­able devel­op­ment

process or sys­tem which could be tapped for pol­icy devel­op­ment in in­tro­duc­ing a ru­ral devel­op­ment strat­egy that is borne out of the in­ter­laced in­tri­ca­cies of ac­tual pro­duc­tion cir­cum­stances, mar­ket in­flu­ences, and cur­rent gov­ern­ment pol­icy dy­nam­ics.

An­chored on ad­vo­cated strate­gies and sit­u­a­tions, to­gether with pos­si­ble in­flu­ences for change in pol­icy im­ple­men­ta­tion of agri­cul­tural devel­op­ment strate­gies, he says, the project es­pouses the idea within the realm of man­age­abil­ity and the prin­ci­ples of economies of scale, in re­la­tion to pro­duc­tion ca­pac­i­ties.

Pe­dralvez, who is in­ci­den­tally the chief agrar­ian re­form project of­fi­cer at the Re­gion-3 of­fice of the De­part­ment of Agrar­ian Re­form, ex­plained that the project aims to cre­ate a pro­to­type show­case busi­ness farm through an eco­nomic size pro­duc­tion area, which is larger than a typ­i­cal back­yard farm.

The size of which could be be­tween 500 and 2,000 square me­ters where the pro­duc­tion method is an­chored on eras­ing the old con­cepts re­gard­ing the dis­ad­van­tages of sea­sonal farm­ing.

Pe­dralvez said this could be achieved by adopt­ing the three crop rule, which is com­posed of the cash crop, the in­sur­ance crop, and the main crop.

The cash crop is com­posed of dif­fer­ent veg­eta­bles such as let­tuce and sim­i­lar va­ri­eties which could be har­vested in a short pe­riod of time, and planted at an in­ter­val of one week per batch so as to pro­vide an im­me­di­ate source of in­come that could be re­al­ized reg­u­larly.

Pe­dralvez ex­plained that the reg­u­lar­ity can be achieved through a cy­cle in which upon har­vest­ing the 4th or 5th batches fol­low­ing some four to five weeks of im­ple­men­ta­tion, the 1st batch is now ready for har­vest­ing and sale, and af­ter re­plant­ing the 1st batch, the 2nd batch would be ready for har­vest­ing.

This is where the cy­cle should pro­ceed, he pointed out.

Ac­cord­ing to Pe­dralvez, this strat­egy is ex­pected to pro­vide an im­me­di­ate source of in­come for the small farm­ers, and to de­fray farm­ing ex­pen­di­tures while await­ing the har­vest of the main crops, which usu­ally comes af­ter the 3rd month of im­ple­men­ta­tion.

The in­sur­ance crops are veg­eta­bles that are in-sea­son, which must be re­silient to calami­ties or pest in­fes­ta­tion.

This would en­sure that the com­pact farm can be sus­tain­able to gen­er­ate an in­come to cush­ion losses which may un­ex­pect­edly come up for the busi­ness farm.

On the other hand, the main crops are those con­sid­ered as off-sea­son, which could fetch higher prices when sold, thus al­low­ing the ven­ture to at­tain a higher in­come to sus­tain its op­er­a­tions, and pro­vide a rea­son­able in­vest­ment re­turns for the adopters.

But in or­der to at­tain a boun­ti­ful har­vest, and en­sure that the crops would even­tu­ally grow well, Pe­dralvez opted to use the dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties of Con­dor seeds at his own model back­yard farm, which he sources from Al­lied Botan­i­cal Cor­po­ra­tion (ABC).

Aside from the bet­ter ger­mi­na­tion rate of Con­dor seeds, he pointed out that he has more va­ri­eties to choose from among the many prod­ucts of the com­pany.

Pe­dralvez says he also gets vi­tal tech­ni­cal sup­port from ABC through Re­gion-3 area sales man­ager Tacs Ong and ABC agron­o­mist Christo­pher Cruz who are both ser­vic­ing his farm which is lo­cated at the back­yard of his home in Barangay Mali­gaya, Di­nalupi­han, Bataan.

With the help of sev­eral farm work­ers who are all grad­u­ates of agri­cul­tural cour­ses from the Bataan Penin­sula State Univer­sity in Balanga, Bataan, the model farm of Pe­dralvez has al­ready pro­duced a suf­fi­cient amount of har­vest, which he said amounted to as much as a small farmer’s fam­ily would need.

The project’s vi­a­bil­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity can be achieved through the con­ver­gence of dif­fer­ent sec­tors, like non­govern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions or the in­di­vid­ual farm­ers, us­ing their own re­sources, to­gether with de­ter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed by adopt­ing the prin­ci­ples of his Busi­ness Farm Pro­to­type.

But a gov­ern­men­tal pol­icy per­tain­ing to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of ad­vo­ca­cies like the ini­tia­tive of Pe­dralvez would fur­ther en­sure its sus­tain­abil­ity and even­tual adop­tion in the dif­fer­ent re­gions of the coun­try.

How­ever, the sus­tain­abil­ity and suc­cess of the ini­tia­tive as adopted by the con­cerned sec­tors should not be premised alone on the in­come that may be de­rived dur­ing the ini­tial im­ple­men­ta­tion of the project, Pe­dralvez ex­plained. It should be viewed as a whole where the in­tended project pro­motes a vi­able source of in­come, if given due at­ten­tion and care.

On the mar­ket­ing as­pect, Pe­dralvez says that this will not be a prob­lem, cit­ing the ris­ing de­mand from the com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing the lo­cal “bagsakan” cen­ters which ac­com­mo­date even small vol­ume of har­vest.

Pe­dralvez be­lieves that his ini­tia­tive will help the small farm­ers to al­le­vi­ate hunger and poverty by in­ten­si­fy­ing their crop pro­duc­tion in a sus­tain­able man­ner, and will even­tu­ally hone their man­age­rial and ne­go­ti­at­ing skills to mar­ket their pro­duce.

Clock­wise (from lower left) Ser­gio L. dela Cruz wa­ters the seedlings in­side a green­house at the model farm. A beau­ti­ful crop of up­land kangkong at the Pe­dralvez farm. Young farmer Irene P. Clerigo in­spects the Tam­buli upo va­ri­ety at the farm of Pe­dralvez.

Clerigo shows the young fruits of the Spit­fire F1 hy­brid egg­plant at the model farm.

Fed­lyn B. Villavi­ray show­ing young egg­plant fruits.

An­other young farmer is shown har­vest­ing the fruits of hot pep­per.

Fran­cis Neil T. Pe­dralvez with his wife Ch­eryll who fully sup­ports his ad­vo­cacy of pro­mot­ing small but sus­tain­able farm­ing.

An­other crop which can be planted on a model farm is the pa­paya.

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