Monday, March 29, 2010

MS Peñalosa urges Sipalay farmers to go organic

By Vishia Mae Dominic J. Tolcidas
Regional Applied Communications
FITS OPA Negros Occidental

Go organic.

This was the challenge of Ramon D. Peñalosa, Jr., Magsasaka Siyentista (MS) or farmer scientist of the Western Visayas Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (WESVARRDEC) at the opening rites of Sipalay Agro-Aqua Trade Fair in Sipalay City recently.

Successful organic farmer Ramon Pe
ñalosa of Victorias City urges farmers of Sipalay City to work together and transform Sipalay City into the First Organic City of Negros Occidental.

“Organic farming is not expensive and only uses local materials like fertilizers out of farm waste,” Peñalosa said. Claiming that organic farming is the only alternative in the midst of global warming and climate change, the WESVARRDEC farmer scientist dared farmers to work together as a team to transform Sipalay into the first organic city in the province

According to Peñalosa, organic products are more attractive and healthy-looking, demanding a price 30 percent higher than those produced with chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

“Tourists will not only go to your place because it is peaceful and has beautiful beaches but also to your organic farms,” Peñalosa added.

The organic farmer also encouraged farmers to put up “edible gardens” by making use of containers. He pointed out that farmers or those interested in farming need not have very spacious farmlands but must only have the right knowledge on how to convert their backyards into gardens that could produce chemical-free crops.

Citing the abundant display of agricultural products at the fair, Peñalosa lauded the strength of the irrigation dams and small water-impounding systems in the city that help mitigate the effects of El Niño on farmers’ crops.

The agri-preneur also congratulated the City Agriculture Office for regularly monitoring the prices of agricultural products, making it easy for farmers to sell their products.

The farmer’s very own Peñalosa Farms is a show window of integrated natural farming business that has lured tourists from across the country who are interested in science-and-technology-based practices that are cheap, available, and sustainable.

Peñalosa Farms also operates Monchito’s, a product line that sells probiotic poultry and pork products in the city. Also in SM Supermarket in Bacolod City, Peñalosa Farms sells organic vegetables and fruits certified by Negros Island Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (NISARD) or NICERT-certified products.

In turn, Montilla supported Peñalosa’s advocacy, saying that organic farming is the need of the times and issued his oft-repeated call for farmers to avoid using chemicals. Montilla also called on his constituents to cooperate with the city’s food production efforts and to live up to the city’s battle-cry “Ugyon Sipalaynon.”

Among those that welcomed organic farming were Barangay I farmers and the Barangay Mambaroto Organic Village , both of whom displayed and sold organically-grown and chemical-free vegetables, fruits, other crops, and poultry at the fair.

Barangay I farmers showcase a creative way of using hanging bamboos as container for organic crops while Mambaroto farmers have mushroom fruits and fruiting bags from the technology they learned from OPA. The group’s mushroom production is also among the few successful mushroom projects in the province.

The six-day Sipalay City Agro-Aqua Trade Fair showcases various products of farmers who were not badly hit by El Niño, thanks to the city’s irrigation systems.

Farmers of the Mambaroto Organic Village of Marabo, Barangay Mambaroto, Sipalay City display organically-produced vegetables and fruits at the Sipalay Agro-Aqua Trade Fair. They also sell mushroom fruits and fruiting bags from the technology they learned from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist-Negros Occidental. The group’s mushroom production is among the few successful mushroom projects in the province.

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