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DAR introduces organic farming to Oriental Mindoro farmers

piaMANILA, May 13 -- Some 200 farmer-beneficiaries in Oriental Mindoro have turned to organic farming after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) showed and trained them on the positive gains in natural farming versus conventional farming.

Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said that the training seeks to expand organically-grown rice and other crops because “natural farming is not only healthier for us to consume, it is also safe for the environment. Plus, it is cheaper for farmers because it uses natural materials for fertilizers and most importantly, the yield is much bigger.”

Under the DAR’s Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS), the department tapped two farmers’ organizations namely the Sta. Maria Agrarian Reform Community Cooperative (SMARCC) and the Mina de Oro Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multipurpose Cooperative (MAREBEMCO), whose farmer-members were trained on organic rice farming and composting.

According to Regional Director Homer Tobias, to show the farmers and convince them that going organic is better than conventional farming, “we established four demo farms and provided a team of crop specialist to teach the farmers the skills and know-how in the natural ways of farming without harming the environment and without health hazards to farmers, crops and its yield.”

Crop Specialist Dr. Rafael Barroso said that the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has greatly degraded the rural environment. Farmlands are poisoned due to the accumulation of chemicals in the soil.

“Studies we have made also show that using chemicals has increased the incidence of pests and animal diseases which results in low crop production. It also affects the health of farmers and consumers because the chemicals used in farming leaves harmful residues on agri products,” said Barroso.

“But aside from the health reasons that we have mentioned, the best benefit that the farmers get in growing organic crops is the yield. We have proven through our demo farms that yield will increase when we harvested 100 cavans of organic rice instead of the expected 80 cavans.

“And this is just the first cropping. As the soil gets healthier thru organic farming, the continued practice of organic farming will further increase yield to 20 percent more,” added Barroso.

At the recent organic rice festival in Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro, farmers proudly exhibited and sold their harvests of organic rice, fruits and vegetables to residents and tourists.

Farmer Manny Portugal attests to the benefits of growing organic rice. “By making my own fertilizers thru composting, I was able to save around 70 percent in my fertilizer expenses because the materials I use are free like cow and chicken manure, dried leaves and hay (dayami).”

Farmer Dionisio Romion swears that organic farming is better. “From my first harvest in the demo farm, I harvested 10 percent more than what I expected. And that’s just my first trial. I know that I will harvest more in the next cropping season.”

When asked how the farmers will be able to sell their harvested organic rice to a niche market, Tobias said that the DAR thru ARCCESS partnered with line agencies like the Department of Science and Technology (TESDA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Strategic Intervention and Community-focused Action towards Development (SICAD) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), to train farmers in product development and  entrepreneurship.

“Aside from organic farming, we also trained them on basic business techniques so they can properly manage their produce as it goes out in the market. We call these line agencies as service providers. The DAR and these service providers will help link our farmers to bigger markets,” Tobias said.

“Now that we have transferred the knowledge on the benefits and gains of organic farming, we are encouraging other farmers to adopt the technology in their own farms,” said Tobias.  (DAR)


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