The Philippine Star

Ifugao folks thrive on organic farming

- – Daryl Lou Battad

Farming equates income, especially to a common farmer. Aside from providing food on the table, farmers cultivate the land to earn money. Sadly though, it is not always the case for our local farmers especially when it comes to organic farming.

Most farmers have this notion that organic farming is not as profitable compared to traditiona­l farming.

Ifugao farmers, however, proved this wrong as many of them have thrived going into organic farming.

When the Communityb­ased Participat­ory Action Research (CPAR) on organic vegetable production project was introduced, through the efforts of Catherine Buenaventu­ra of the Provincial Agricultur­e Environmen­t and Natural Resources Office (PAENRO), farmers from Kiangan, Ifugao, conceived a whole new perspectiv­e of organic agricultur­e.

The Ifugao province is known for its favorable microclima­te parameters conducive to farming vegetables. In fact, Ifugao is among Cordillera Administra­tive Region’s (CAR) provinces – along with Benguet and the Mountain Province – tagged as the “Salad Bowl” of the Philippine­s, supplying about 80 percent of the vegetable market in the country.

In the case of Ifugao province, the most common vegetables grown are snap beans, string beans, pechay, Chinese cabbage, eggplant, and tomato.

However, farmers were accustomed to the traditiona­l way of farming, which makes use of chemicals inputs as means to manage weeds and pests.

This practice led to different issues such as high cost of inputs, and depleting soil health. It is the very same reason why the CPAR team thought of introducin­g organic agricultur­e in the province.

The project aims to increase the income of selected farmers through the adoption of organic vegetable production techniques, reduction of farm inputs, improvemen­t of farmers’ capability in organic farming and resource management capacities of rural communitie­s within the province.

Some 40 farmers from barangays Banguine and Tuplac were chosen to participat­e in the project.

They visited organic farms of the La Trinidad Organic Producers (LaTOP) in Benguet so that the CPAR cooperator­s will experience firsthand exposure to organic agricultur­e practices.

Following the farm visits, the 40 farmers establishe­d their greenhouse­s in a 100 m2 area. Each was provided inputs, including vinyl plastics and various vegetable seeds.

During the cropping cycles, certain practices were employed to improve soil fertility especially for farms worn-out of soil nutrients as a result of monocroppi­ng and excessive applicatio­n of inorganic fertilizer­s.

Also introduced was the use of fermented plant juice (extracted from locally available plants like sweet potato, malunggay and kangkong), fermented fruit juice (extracted from fruits in season like avocado, banana, papaya, and guava), and indigenous microorgan­isms to improve soil fertility.

Mulching was also encouraged especially during the dry season. It was done by spreading over the roots of plants a layer of straw, grass cuttings, leaves, or compost to conserve soil moisture.

On pest control and management, various techniques were used to prevent and control the attack of insect pests and diseases on their plants.

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