Monday, February 15, 2010

From soldiers to farmers

FITS CapSU Mambusao teaches farming to Camp Peralta personnel
By Niño Manaog
Regional Applied Communications

On February 10–11, 2010, Farmers Information and Technological Services (FITS) Center based in Capiz State University (CapSU) Mambusao led a two-day training on organic farming and vegetable production to some 35 enlisted personnel including women and staff of Camp Gen. Macario B. Peralta, Jr. in barangay Jaena, Jamindan, Capiz.

Technology Services Specialist Eduardo Navarra lectured on the benefits of organic farming and led a demonstration on how to make natural concoctions as foliar fertilizers. In the workshop, the participants prepared fish amino acid, calcium phosphate and banana-squash fermented juice extract. Dr. Geronimo Gregorio, CapSU’s vice-president for research and extension and head of the Research and Development Extension Center (RDEC) led a lecture on vegetable production on the second day.

Col. Marcos Norman S. Flores, MNSA, Camp Peralta’s chief of staff, deemed the training relevant to their personnel development. Flores said that they train their soldiers to raise vegetables in their own backyard so they would not wholly depend on the commercial and more expensive food supply from the barangay’s tiangge. In July 2009, Camp Peralta started the Gulayan ng Bayan project, which requires soldiers to tend to and raise vegetables in respective plots across the camp.

Camp Peralta's enlisted personnel prepare various natural concoctions using indigenous microogranisms (IMOs) which can be used as foliar fertilizers in their plots. These and other similar organics-based farming practices are widely promoted by FITS CapSU Mambusao.

According to Lt. Col. Bebarlito Baribar, project coordinator of Gulayan ng Bayan, selected military personnel were grouped into three to take active part in the project which has been set to compete with the commercial market in their locality. Baribar identified three problems that they met in pursuing the project. This included poor soil conditions, high precipitation and the soldiers’ lack of know-how in farming—the training sought to address the third problem. Baribar added that the project not only sets to provide livelihood and survival mechanism for the military personnel; it also enjoins them to develop the value of self-reliance.

Participants coming from different backgrounds had favorable responses on the training. Thirty two-year old Jonalyn Lagare, a private first class from Ipil, Zamboanga del Sur said the training taught a lot to the participants, and that the learning they got can be used anytime. Lagare said she will be able to apply what she learned especially when she retires in Sibugay where her family owns a sizable piece of land.

Meanwhile, Pototan, Iloilo-born M/Sgt. Pedro Millare, who is now 33 years in service, said the training particularly the ideas on organic farming, was very helpful because soldiers are not particular about their know-how when they are assigned to farming. They just till the land and harvest without much knowledge on how to go about them. Millare said that the Philippines is highly agricultural, and that soldiers retiring to farming can certainly make use of the know-how which were clearly conveyed to them by the speakers.

The resource team included Dr. Raul Ticar and Mary Ann Lariza of FITS CapSU Mambusao.

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