Outstanding Capiz farmer opens integrated farm training center
By Niño Manaog
Livelihood for the community, skills training and enhancement of integrated farming practices and promotion of agri-tourism in Capiz and Western Visayas. Four years after venturing into integrated farming, Mr. Rodolfo Bibal was named the country's outstanding farmer in 2004, owing to his productive farming practices.
These were only three of the many purposes of Mr. Rodolfo Bibal, 2004 outstanding farmer from Western Visayas, when he formally launched and opened the Bibal’s Integrated Farm and Tilapia Hatchery Training Center on December 1, 2011 in barangay Magubilan, Panay, Capiz.
Bibal is one of the proprietors of a sprawling 7.5 hectares of land where he grows rice and vegetables and raises tilapia and sizably profits from them. Ms. Yolanda B. Enero and Ms. Elvira Bibal-Barrios, Bibal’s sisters, are his fellow proprietors.
In these areas, Bibal practices intercropping, planting banana, ginger, alugbati, papaya, kalamansi, ampalaya, pepper, eggplant and string beans to maximize whatever area is left available. Currently employing some 15 farmhands assigned to the fish ponds, vegetable plots and rice fields, Bibal’s integrated farm is one profitable venture.
Starting on a small area of 176 sq.m in 2000, Bibal said he once felt hopeless when he lost most of his potential rice yield to the flood, [at the time the thing he best knew in farming]. But before he could lose hope, someone inspired him to take courage and move on. Then, he thought of diversifying into tilapia raising and planting vegetables (starting with ampalayaand eggplants). Two weeks later, this alternative step paid off when he saw the enormous growth and yield of said vegetables in the same area. In fact, the 280 sq.m planted to ampalaya yielded more than 1,700 kilograms, which told him that he profited more from the vegetables yield than from the rice production to which he invested much.
While they will say the rest is history, Bibal said that he worked hard and doubled his efforts, cultivating vegetables and still raising tilapia, until he gradually expanded into some 6 hectares with fish ponds which he was able to create only through manual and hard labor excavations. Without relying on heavy equipment, he employed his own barangay constituents to dig out the fish ponds. To date, Bibal’s tilapia hatchery and farms account for half of his total production area.
Bibal’s passion for farming which does not only concern rice production but more importantly integrated farming systems has inspired his efforts to do more. Not long after, his hard work was recognized when he was named outstanding farmer in the country by the Department of Agriculture (DA) in 2004.
For the award-winning farmer, farming is the most honorable of the professions, saying that the role of farmers is key to the survival of a given community. Dungganon ang pagpanguma [farming is honorable], Bibal said.
For this seasoned farmer, hard work and study are crucial to being successful in farming. Bibal urges farmers to be industrious and diligent and encourages them to take stock of the farming technologies that can best assist them in improving their farming and increasing production. Farming can best help the farmer if he only concentrates and starts to learn from a small farming area.
It is also best that he first study and learn farming technology and properly use it in his farms which can give him profit and make him self-reliant. He advocates that everything beneficial to man can be found in the soil, or agriculture. Above all, he points to the Divine Providence for his having achieved success in his production. Farming expertise or knowledge alone is not enough to sustain a farmer and make him productive, without confidence in God.
Based on these insights, Bibal said there is a need to launch the training center which will feature his best practices but also open doors of opportunities for the province. Such initiative of his family will not only show that agriculture is best practiced in this part of the world, but also open opportunities that will best benefit his community. SIBLING REVELRY. Bibal's farm is owned by siblings Yolanda B. Enero, Elvira Bibal-Barrios, and Rodolfo Bibal.
The completion of the training center was made possible by the partnership of the three siblings—Ms. Yolanda B. Enero, Ms. Elvira Bibal-Barrios and Mr. Rodolfo Bibal, who worked hand in hand to finish the construction of the said establishment.
Located at the middle of Bibal’s farm, the training center can accommodate some 200 persons at one time. The area also has a central view of the farm production where Bibal’s farming practices can be exhibited. In the near future, the center will also feature dormitory accommodations for farm tourists.
The launch was supported by no less than Department of Agriculture (DA) Region 6 Director Larry Nacionales, along with local agriculture and government officials of Panay, Capiz.
In his speech, Nacionales commended Bibal for having opened the training center which will serve as the key venue for agri-tourism in the province and allow for more opportunities and initiatives in agriculture for the Panay Island. Nacionales also said that Bibal brought prestige to Western Visayas when he was named outstanding farmer scientist in early 2000s. In full support of Bibal's initiative, DA Region 6 Director Larry Nacionales encouraged institutions and organizations to propose for projects that promote organic agriculture and the government's food sustainability program.
Nacionales expressed optimism on bringing agri-tourism to Capiz, even as he stressed that agriculture and profitability can be found in the heart of Panay Island. He therefore urged that farmers can best profit from their own farms if only managed well, just like what Rodolfo Bibal has proven.
According to Techno Gabay Team Leader Eduardo Navarra of the Capiz State University, in coordination with Juanito Hecita, Jr., manager of the Panay FITS Center, Mr. Rodolfo Bibal is likely to be identified as the official Magsasaka Siyentista (MS) for the FITS Center, once the interventions with WESVARRDEC are in place.