Sunday, April 26, 2009

WESVARRDEC reviews potential farmer scientists

By Niño Manaog, RACO Staff
With Reports from Nicolas Banquero, RTGP Staff
Photos by RACO and RTGP

For WESVARRDEC, fresh and practical ideas in farming that could benefit the larger public are always a welcome change.

In a week-long marathon evaluation of future Magsasaka Siyentista (MS), the Regional Techno Gabay Program (RTGP) of the Western Visayas Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (WESVARRDEC) led by RTGP Coordinator Ana Mae Relingo of the Aklan State University assessed the performance, production and overall potential of five MS nominees across the Panay region.

On March 17, 19 and 20, 2009, Relingo’s team evaluated the nominees for the Magsasaka Siyentista (MS) identified by the Farmers Information and Technological Services (FITS) Centers in Lemery, Batad, Bingawan, Igbaras, all of Iloilo province and Tobias Fornier in Antique. Backed by a number of experts on particular commodities, Relingo’s team nevertheless discovered potentially replicable technologies which are peculiar to each of the MS nominees.

First is the retired chemist Mr. Rolando Lamigo who practices organic farming in his production of corn and is now engaged in sustainable integrated farming in Batad, Iloilo. Though his production sometimes cannot meet the expected volume for his piece of land, Lamigo still keeps producing corn, hoping he would harvest more in the next cropping season. To date, he has been using artificial bacteria and other natural fertilizers to lessen the use of inorganic substances his corn production. “Through WESVARRDEC, particularly FITS Batad, supported by the local government, I hope to gain useful knowledge which I can share to other farmers who are given priority here in our town,” Lamigo said.

Second, there is Lemery’s Aniolino Matutino who adopted the indigenous knowledge of his grandmother to improve the laying performance of his Mallard ducks. One of these practices is feeding the fowls with lugaw (rice porridge) mixed with muscovado sugar. According to Matutino, this practice helps boost the egg production of the fowls. Another technology he developed is the utilization of empty plastic containers as artificial swamp for ducks during the dry and very hot seasons. Matutino drills a hole on empty containers big enough for ducks to fit their heads for drinking. Because ducks can refresh their bodies even during the hot months, they are protected from the sweltering heat. The technology is intended to help cool down ducks’ rising body temperature which usually causes them to be unproductive.

Next in line is Ramon Gonzales of Bingawan, Iloilo who takes pride in his tracts of land planted to Cardaba breed of banana. A proactive farm manager of some 10 hectares of banana plantation, Gonzales says that making the farmfolk understand profit making from agriculture poses a challenge to him as farmers sustain their deep-rooted beliefs in farming which do not necessarily help them make profits. Working with a number of enkargado, or land tenants, Gonzales encourages the farmers to help him produce the banana by employing a percentage scheme based on the plantation’s periodic harvests. His purpose is to make them realize that they should particularly profit from the fruits of their labor. Seeking to expand his banana production to 15 hectares, Gonzales keeps to sustain his free-range native chickens from which he draws manure as fertilizer for his plantation.

Meanwhile, the mango orchard of 40-year old Jose Maria Eclavia of Igbaras, Iloilo featured some century-old mango trees bearing the sweetest mango fruits being processed as dried mango through the newly acquired drying machine. The president of the Igbaras Mango Growers and Producers Association (IMGPA), Eclavia has undergone a string of trainings and exposures in mango production and processing. Currently, Eclavia leads a 25-member association involved in both producing and processing of their own mango yield. The association has been supplying demands of their townsfolk who are OFWs, and also helps provide livelihood jobs to a number of household in their locality.

According to MS Rebecca Tubongbanua of Guimaras, who led the mango evaluation team, some of their drying procedures have to be refined to make the products sweeter and more marketable. As attested by FITS Manager Jose Ebalan, the mango processing in Igbaras is still in its inception.

Finally, in Antique, Antonio Villodres of Tobias Fornier was noted for his interest in the nursery management of buri. A dynamic municipal engineer in their locality, Villodres expressed willingness to be trained further in the mass production of buri. Currently maintaining a buri nursery in his four-hectare upland plantation committed to diversified farming and livestock, Villodres relies on the equal share of carbonized rice hull (CRH) and vermi-compost for fertilizer. Previously he doled out a number of buri seedlings in their town. Villodres seeks to address the unavailability of buri seedlings in their town, aware that he can help provide additional employment to those who will benefit from the production.

Given such technologies and commitment up and coming, WESVARRDEC is more likely to benefit from a new wave of knowledge sharing which will surely aid the region’s development.

WESVARRDEC's new lineup of Magsasaka Siyentista this year (MS) includes (clockwise from top) Ramon Gonzales of Bingawan, Iloilo (Banana); Jose Maria Eclavia of Igbaras, Iloilo (Processed Mango); Antonio Villodres of Tobias Fornier, Antique (Buri); Aniolino Matutino of Lemery, Iloilo (Mallard ducks); and Rolando Lamigo of Batad, Iloilo (Corn).

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