Poor Cebu corn farm­ers get­ting richer

Agriculture - - Contents -

THE POOR FARM­ERS in Cebu who used to lead hand-to-mouth ex­is­tences be­cause of mea­ger har­vests from their na­tive white corn crops have be­come much richer now, thanks to the FarmerS­ci­en­tist Train­ing Pro­gram (FSTP) launched by Dr. Ro­mulo Da­vide in the mid-1990s.

Dr. Da­vide is a re­tired pro­fes­sor from the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines Los Baños (UPLB) who was given a grant of R500,000 for hav­ing been named the Most Out­stand­ing Agri­cul­tural Scientist of the Year in 1994 by the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture.

He de­cided to use the grant as seed money for his FSTP and launched a pro­gram to teach the poor corn farm­ers the sci­en­tific way of im­prov­ing not only their corn yields but also other crops and farm an­i­mals that they can take care of.

Re­cently, 2,000 grad­u­ates of the FSTP from 48 of the 54 towns and cities in Cebu at­tended the 8th Farmer Sci­en­tists Congress in Minglanilla. Dur­ing the Congress, 10 agri-en­tre­pre­neur awardees were given due recog­ni­tion for hav­ing achieved in­comes of more than R200,000 per year.

Top­ping the list was a lady farmer-scientist, Ar­lene B. Mon­tejo of Sud­lon II, Cebu City, who had an an­nual in­come of R679,000. She was fol­lowed by Joven­cio Lan­ticse, who made an in­come of R646,000. The other high earn­ers were Ce­sar B. Ramil from Taba-ao, Tabo­gon; Pre­cillo L. Al­bores (also of Sud­lon II, Cebu City); Vi­cente Ybañez of Ban­tayan; Vi­tal­iana O. Borja from Co­gon, Tubu­ran; Colum­bos G. Radan from Jag­buaya, Tubu­ran; Jorge F. Llego of Ronda; Joseph Mon­tañez from Ar­gao; and Emma M. Be­banco from Poro.

As corn is their sta­ple food, the farmer-sci­en­tists prac­tice the corn-based farm­ing sys­tem with re­search, devel­op­ment, and ex­ten­sion com­po­nents as ad­vo­cated by FSTP. The farm­ers have learned to di­ver­sity their farm­ing prac­tices by plant­ing dif­fer­ent in­ter­crops. Com­monly planted for this pur­pose are rootcrops like camote and cas­sava, which are of­ten mixed with corn or rice dur­ing cook­ing. Legumes such as munggo and peanut are also planted, as the farm­ers have learned that these help im­prove soil fer­til­ity.

High-value crops like veg­eta­bles are also grown, de­pend­ing on the pre­vail­ing mar­ket de­mand for them. Plant­ing all these re­quired care­ful plan­ning with a sci­en­tific ba­sis to max­i­mize the in­come from their lim­ited farm ar­eas.

Cebu gover­nor Hi­lario Da­vide III was the guest speaker dur­ing the farmer-sci­en­tists’ Congress. In sup­port of the pro­gram, he promised to al­lo­cate PhP 1 mil­lion for ev­ery lo­cal gov­ern­ment unit (LGU) that is im­ple­ment­ing FSTP.— ZBS

Cebu Gov. Hi­lario Da­vide III pours white corn into a corn mill at the 8th Congress of the Cebu farmer-sci­en­tists. White corn is a fa­vorite sta­ple of Ce­buanos.

The FSTP project was one of the rea­sons Dr. Ro­mulo Da­vide won the Magsaysay Award a few years back.

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