508 farmers trained, 718 more benefit from techno-demo farms under organic agriculture program — DA

April 10, 2009 11:26 pm 

MANILA, April 10 — A total of 508 farmers have so far been trained in the production of non-chemical based fertilizers while another 718 benefited from the establishment of techno-demo organic farms under joint initiatives between the Department of Agriculture (DA) and non-government organizations (NGOs) to promote organic agriculture and other related environment-friendly farming practices.

In a report to DA Secretary Arthur Yap, Bureau of Soils and Water Management Director Silvino Tejada said that under the first phase of the DA’s Organic Fields Support Project, the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF), a national organization of small farmers headed by former Agriculture Secretary Leonardo Montemayor, has teamed up with the BSWM in implementing the Development and Promotion of Organic Rice Production Program.

This project, which has an initial funding support of P1 million from the BSWM, has two components: the training of farmer-technicians on organic fertilizer and botanical preparation and the establishment of techno-demo organic farms.

Tejada reported during a recent DA Management Committee meeting that 88 farmer-technicians from the 21 provinces covered by the project took part in three cluster training programs conducted in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao. The training focused on the basic concepts and practices in organic agriculture.

A total of 79 organic rice techno-demo farms with a consolidated area of 107 hectares, or an average of 1.4 hectares per farm, owned by 578 farmers in the 21 provinces were established. Most of the techno-demo farms were undertaken during the November 2008 to January 2009 planting season, he said.

In a separate project, Tejada said the DA has also teamed up with the Centro Saka Inc. headed by Romeo Royandoyan, in conducting training programs on organic rice farming technologies; establishment of organic rice techno-demo farms; and setting up of a composting facility for the production of organic fertilizers.

A total of 11 training sessions with 420 farmers as beneficiaries from 11 provinces in Mindanao covered by the project were trained on organic rice farming production, he said.

Tejada said a total of 120 hectares of techno-demo farms owned by 140 farmer beneficiaries were also established during the 2008 dry cropping season. Of these areas, 20 hectares are upland palay farms located in Maguindanao and Shariff Kabunsuan.

The composting facility set up under the project is located in the municipality of Tago, Surigao del Sur, managed and handled by the Surigao del Sur Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives (SUFAC).

Tejada said these joint initiatives by the DA with NGOs have so far yielded a total of 508 farmers and farmers/technicians undergoing training in 14 session in 32 provinces across the country.

The establishment of techno-demo farmers covered 225 hectares under these two separate organic farming projects, benefiting a total of 718 farmers in the 32 provinces.

Last year, the DA and BWSM forged a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), La Liga Policy Institute (LLPI) and Mayor Hernani Braganza of Alaminos City in Pangasinan on the launching of the Organic FIELDS Support Program (OFSP) in an initial six cities and municipalities in Luzon.

Launched by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the DA-hosted National Food Summit last April, FIELDS stands for Fertilizers, Irrigation and other rural infrastructure, Education and extension work, Loans, Dryers and other postharvest facilities, and Seeds.

Under the MOA, the DA and BWSM will provide financial and technical support to OFSP to carry out the program’s first phase in three cities and three municipalities for the benefit of at least 600 farmers combined who will get hands-on training over a four-month period (November 2008-March 2009) on the methods involved in the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) production, Organic Fertilizer Production and Nature Fertilizer.

PRRM, LLPI and Braganza, on the other hand, have committed under the MOA to oversee the implementation of Phase 1 of the OFSP in the six pilot sites during the dry or summer crop, and take charge of the education and information component of this project via trainings, seminars and consultative meetings on organic fertilizer and organic fertilizer manufacturing, plus the production of TV and radio plugs and other promotional materials.

These pilot sites are Alaminos City, Tabaco City in Albay, Science City of Muñoz in Nueva Ecija, Naujan in Mindoro Oriental, and Dinalupihan and Samal in Bataan.

One-hectare palay fields either owned by the local government units or farmer initiators will be developed in each of the pilot areas into learning farms where at least 100 farmer-participants per site will be given “hands-on exposure and experiential learning” on organic fertilizer techniques like conventional composting and vermi-composting, conversion of rice husk and hull into organic fertilizer, distance planting and SRI methodology, integrated pest management and zero-tillage fertilizer. (PNA) scs/PR/eda

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