Agriculture - - Action -

NOT A FEW PEO­PLE are com­plain­ing about the high prices of beef in the mar­ket. Of course, the rea­son is that there is not enough pro­duc­tion of cat­tle in the farms. Back­yard farm­ers are tak­ing care of just one or two head for fat­ten­ing. And one ma­jor rea­son is that they don’t have enough feeds to give to their an­i­mals, es­pe­cially dur­ing the dry sum­mer months.

One pos­si­ble so­lu­tion to the lack of feed is to en­cour­age agribusi­ness in­vestors to go into mech­a­nized pro­duc­tion of silage so that the prod­uct could be pro­duced in big vol­umes at an af­ford­able price. Teach­ing the or­di­nary farm­ers to make silage for their own use will most prob­a­bly be not sus­tain­able. One rea­son is that, they don’t have enough raw ma­te­ri­als like grasses, corn stover, and other crops that are avail­able year-round.

More­over, small­hold farm­ers will only have man­ual la­bor to do the plant­ing, har­vest­ing, shred­ding, and other chores needed in silage pro­duc­tion. Chop­ping the corn stover—the dried ones as well as the green corn stalks—would be very slow, la­bo­ri­ous, and ex­pen­sive. That’s be­cause, man­ual la­bor is get­ting more costly, and there are not enough la­bor­ers avail­able in the farms.

GOV­ERN­MENT IS MOV­ING – Of course, we were de­lighted to learn that the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture has rec­og­nized the prob­lem and is do­ing some­thing about it. We learned that the DA has re­cently de­liv­ered R8.4- mil­lion worth of farm ma­chin­ery and equip­ment pur­posely to as­sist a group in Cen­tral Lu­zon – Tar­lac and Pan­gasi­nan – to un­der­take mech­a­nized silage mak­ing.

The group con­sists of three par­ties. These in­clude the mem­bers of a co­op­er­a­tive in Pan­gasi­nan who are mostly OFWs who will plant corn in their farms. The other party is the Right Agri of Is­abela headed by Eu­gene Gabriel. Gabriel’s group con­sists of ex­perts in farm mech­a­niza­tion. Right Agri will do the land prepa­ra­tion for the farm­ers, plant the seeds by ma­chine, do the har­vest­ing, and shred­ding of the raw ma­te­ri­als. Right Agri will also haul the har­vested raw ma­te­ri­als to the pro­cess­ing plant in Tar­lac which is un­der the care of Dr. Ron­aldo Su­maoang. Right Agri is also re­spon­si­ble for mar­ket­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Dr. Su­maoang.

The farm­ers are as­sured of a rea­son­able in­come be­cause Right Agri will buy all their pro­duc­tion of green corn (75 days old) at R1 per kilo. One hectare could yield from 70 to 80 tons per hectare, which

means a gross of R70,000 to R80,000. From this, the cost of land prepa­ra­tion, seeds and fer­til­izer will be de­ducted. It is es­ti­mated that this will not ex­ceed R20,000. So there’s a rea­son­able mar­gin for the farm­ers.

Dr. Su­maoang is a mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gist who stud­ied fer­men­ta­tion tech­nol­ogy in Ger­many and has been us­ing his ex­per­tise in pro­duc­ing silage for his own sheep. He is also man­u­fac­tur­ing fer­mented food prod­ucts for a big chain of su­per­mar­ket and is also a man­u­fac­turer of or­ganic fer­til­izer.

Dr. Su­maoang does the for­mu­la­tion of the right mix of fer­men­ta­tion ma­te­ri­als to max­i­mize the ef­fi­cacy of the silage pro­duced. Two types of silage are pro­duced. One is called the or­di­nary kind be­cause only the shred­ded raw ma­te­ri­als and the fer­ment­ing agents are ap­plied. On the other hand, they also man­u­fac­ture a for­mu­la­tion called Silage Pre­mium. This is pro­duced with the ad­di­tion of ex­tra sources of pro­tein like soya and co­pra meal.

In re­cent tri­als, the Silage Pre­mium has been proven to boost the growth of the an­i­mals and has also en­hanced milk pro­duc­tion in dairy cows. The di­gestibil­ity of Silage Pre­mium is en­hanced by the inclusion of en­zymes and ben­e­fi­cial micro­organ­isms so that the nu­tri­ents in the feed is read­ily ab­sorbed by the an­i­mals, lead­ing to faster growth and higher pro­duc­tiv­ity.

In the project in Pan­gasi­nan, corn is the tar­get as raw ma­te­rial. Both the dried corn stover from which ma­ture ears were har­vested can be used for silage mak­ing. Of course, im­ma­ture corn (75 days old with de­vel­oped but im­ma­ture ears) is the other tar­get raw ma­te­rial. The corn farm­ers make money sell­ing their green corn plants to Right Agri and Dr. Su­maoang.

Silage can be fed to cat­tle (beef and dairy) sheep and goats. A black pig farmer is also us­ing silage to feed his an­i­mals. With af­ford­able silage avail­able through­out the year, back­yard farm­ers will be able to take care of more cat­tle and other ru­mi­nants, thus help­ing boost the coun­try’s an­i­mal pop­u­la­tion.

By the way, Right Agri has been pro­duc­ing silage for sev­eral years now, us­ing corn stalks in Is­abela. Be­cause Is­abela is far from the cus­tomers in Cen­tral and South­ern Lu­zon, they de­cided to part­ner with Dr. Su­maoang so the pro­cess­ing plant could be in Tar­lac which has started to op­er­ate re­cently.— ZAC B. SARIAN

This ma­chine har­vests and shreds the grass at the same time.

More calves can be taken care of by farm­ers with feed avail­able year -round.

Dr. Rene Su­maoang and his sheep that are fed with silage.

Cows like this can ben­e­fit from silage.

Goats also love silage.

Buf­falo feed­ing on silage.

Dairy cows feed­ing on corn silage.

Dry corn stover can also be made into silage.

Eu­gene Gabriel check­ing corn silage.

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