from DAR and East-West Seed Philippines harvest organically
grown pechay at the farm of Jose Dautil (right) in Barangay
Hinabay, Inopacan, Leyte. (Jose Alsmith L. Soria)
By JOSE ALSMITH L. SORIA
April 19, 2016
TACLOBAN CITY – When we
reached Barangay Hinabay, we were led to a vegetable farm of Jose
Dautil, 54, that was ready for harvest. We picked some kilos of sweet
pepper, and pechay, and paid him the corresponding price. Then we
moved to Barangay Cabulisan to see more vegetables in other farms.
These adjacent villages nestled on top of a mountain in Inopacan,
Leyte are now known for organic vegetables.
Farmers here are now
seriously pursuing high value organic vegetable production after the
Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) subjected last year the members of
two agrarian reform beneficiary organizations (ARBOs) to a five-month
training on high value crops production using the natural farming
Being covered by the second
phase of the Agrarian Reform Communities Project (ARCP-II), DAR tapped
the East-West Seed Philippines for the conduct of the said training
under the Agricultural Enterprise Development to the Hinabay Upland
Farmers Association (HUFA) and the Cabulisan Multi-Purpose Upland
Farmers Association (CAMUFA).
When asked what they like
about organic vegetable production, Marissa Bisnar, 38, an agrarian
reform beneficiary (ARB) said the products are sold at a higher price
than those grown the traditional way. Even if they are a little bit
expensive, more consumers prefer to buy organic vegetables, she added.
From her last harvest,
Marissa shared that she earned P8,350 from her four plots of sweet
pepper, four plots of tomato and ampalaya, which became additional
income for her family.
Cristita Abenoja, a merchant
from Barangay Cabulisan who buys the farmers’ harvests and sell them
at the town’s market disclosed that her products are easily sold out
because consumers opt for organic vegetables.
Organic farming now becomes
the trade mark of these two barangays. When buyers learn that the
vegetables come from the said barangays, they already know that it’s
organic, Abenoja said. Further, “my customers increased,” she added,
because the information had spread to nearby towns like Hindang, Bato
and Baybay City.
For that, these farmers
living on top of the mountain, 18 kilometers away from the town proper
are thankful they were taught organic farming.
Abaca used to be the major
crop of the farmers here. But because of the bunchy top disease,
farmers ceased planting abaca, and shifted to vegetable production in
2004. Last year, with the joint effort of DAR and East-West Seed
Philippines, the natural farming system was introduced and changed the
lifestyle of the farmers here.
With this method the farmers
no longer sniff chemicals when spraying pesticides, according to
CAMAFU president Edelito Merrano Sr., 51. Likewise, they can save more
because they no longer buy fertilizers and pesticides, he added.
Instead, they use the
vermicast their association is producing. Vermi-culture and vermi-composting
have been introduced to them by DAR in 2015 as alternative sources of
CAMUFA was among the 100 ARB
organizations provided with a shredder and 30 kilos of African night
crawlers last year.
At the moment CAMUFA is also
selling vermicast at P350 per sack of 50 kilos. While African night
crawlers are being sold by the association at P500 per kilo.