27 Sep 2012

CapSU TG Team trained on organic farming by ATI

By NiƱo Manaog
Extension Associate
Capiz State University

On August 15–17, 2012, some 30 delegates from the Capiz State University (CapSU)’s Techno Gabay (TG) Team led by Mr. Eduardo Navarra flocked to the Racso’s Resort in Bantayan, Guimbal, Iloilo to take part in the Organic Training Seminar Workshop for FITS Managers, Technology Service Specialists (TSS) and Information Service Specialists (ISS). It was sponsored by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) Region 6 based in Banga, Aklan.

Facilitators and participants exchange information
and technologies on organic farming.

For Team Leader Eduardo Navarra, the CapSU TG team was lucky enough to have availed itself of the free training services of the ATI, through the efforts of Susan Dordas, manager of the Dao FITS Center whose proposal was promptly submitted to ATI along with the projects under their own Dao Organic Agriculture Program.

The organics training package featured important key players in organic agriculture.  Mr. Ahmon Ledesma, president of the Negros Organic Rice Industry Association (NORIA), Inc., started the sessions by presenting the principles, fundamentals and goals of organic agriculture, stressing the issues and concerns in sustainable agriculture, and even zooming in on the particular implications of global warming and climate change.

Then, Mr. Philip Reyes, managing director of Lucene Agribusiness shared his expertise on Darag native chicken production and the organic rice & corn production in compliance with the standards. An inspector of the Organic Inspectors' Association of Negros Island (OIANI) and the Negros Island Certification Services (NICERT), Reyes also shared their best practices on organic vegetables production, organic swine raising and integrated diversified organic farming systems.

Other key players and stakeholders in the organic agriculture advocacy also inspired the group. Mr. Samson Garzon of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) based in Negros Occidental shed light on the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Republic Act 10068, otherwise known as the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 and the Organic Agriculture Certification Standards; while Prof. Marilou J. Ang Lopez of the School of Technology of the University of the Philippines Visayas in Miag-ao, Iloilo lectured on vermicomposting technology.

ATI’s capability-building initiative drew a number of responses from the participants.

For Ms. Susan Dordas, manager of the Farmers’ Information and Technology Services (FITS) Center based in Dao, Capiz, it enhanced their skills and knowledge on organic agriculture and reinforced the existing expertise of the Dao personnel. Dordas said that while the efforts in organic agriculture have virtually taken off in said municipality this year, the capability building served as a level-up for them.

The training also backed up their technologies and expertise particularly on the bioorganic products which they have been promoting since last year. “We have developed flyers on organics which can be used for DOAP,” Dordas said.

With the help of OPA Capiz FITS Center led by Mr. Audie Belargo who will help shoulder the production costs to be sourced from their respective FITS Center funds, Dordas will develop and publish and disseminate in their municipalities materials on organics production and profitability.

These materials include primers on bio-organic fertilizer and pesticides preparation and health and wellness through natural and organic agriculture which she hopes to see print using the FITS center’s funds granted by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD).

Dordas also acknowledged the help of ATI and CapSU which are instrumental in educating them. “With the help of ATI and CapSU, our organic production efforts have even been made more effective.”

Under the DOAP, the Dao FITS Center has trained some 950 or close to 1,000 farmers from April to August 2012. Dordas also thanked Dr. Hector Penaranda, focal person of the organic agriculture program under the Department of Agriculture - Regional Field Unit 6 (DA-RFU 6), who committed to support the production of these IEC materials.

In the third day of the training, participants were led by the ATI team to the Garin Farms in Guimbal, Iloilo and the diversified farm of Mr. Romeo Baltazar of Oton, Iloilo. During the tour, Baltazar’s farm gained the interest of the participants. Promoting his farm practices, Baltazar shared to them that when he regularly sprayed IMO to deodorize the swine in his farm regularly used—he did not have to make use of his biogas digester. The farmer’s use of IMOs technology observed a significant reduction of biogas (methane) production.

For his part, Mr. Audie Belargo, manager of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) Capiz FITS Center, the content of the training was particularly useful to him as manager of the Capiz provincial FITS Center.

Belargo laments that in the past, when researchers and farmers would inquire in his office on organic farming, he used to refer them to the OPA personnel in-charge of the organics. But after this ATI-sponsored training, he can now do the tasks himself and “won’t refer to focal persons if I can handle them myself.”

“Personally, I am also interested in pursuing organic in my own backyard,” Belargo said. Asked about the future of organic agriculture, Belargo said the success will depend on the seriousness of stakeholders. For Belargo, “what is good about organic farming is that it can be practiced from the household level.”
The ATI training did not only engage the participants
into lecture discussions but also brought them to actual sites
where technologies are practiced.

Meanwhile, Ulysses Bendicio, TSS of the President Roxas FITS Center, particularly took note of Baltazar’s farm in Oton, Iloilo. On the model farm, Bendicio said that the organic agriculture practices there can also be applied to their own local farmers.

According to Bendicio, they have also been convincing their local farmers to pursue diversified farming systems. He added that what is admirable in Baltazar’s farm is that bisan gamay ang area kag gamay ang gasto sa panguma, dako nga ganansya ang pwedeng mabaton (Small-scale farms requires small input but promises more profit.) Participants realized that this is so because of the diversity of crops being grown.

In all, Navarra said that the training proved helpful to the Techno Gabay team as the said extension workers can in turn echo their knowledge gained to the farmers and personnel in their respective stations.