Saturday, October 02, 2010

Negros-made shredders impress Zamboanga agri-tourists

By Vishia Mae Dominic Tolcidas

Regional Applied Communications

Photos by Vishia Mae Dominic Tolcidas

Bacolod City, Negros Occidental—A group of agri-tourists from Zamboanga said they were impressed at Negros-made shredders and post-harvest machinery being made at a foundry shop in this city.

Ahmad Nahul, leader of the 32-man delegation of government agriculturists, said they enjoyed their trip to Negros Occidental particularly their visit to RU Foundry and Eco Agri Park in Pahanocoy, Bacolod City because they saw up close how these world-class machines are manufactured and how they work.

“Back home, our farmers are already using the same shredders for waste management and post-harvest,” said Nahul, the regional integrated pest management coordinator of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Region 9 in Pagadian City.

Rosita Patangan of the municipality of Tukuran said she did not expect a visit to the foundry shop, with no less than the manufacturer himself Ramon Uy, Sr. giving a demonstration on how to operate the shredder correctly. Patangan, an agricultural technologist shared that the Camanga Farmers Association is a recipient of the same shredder months ago. “My farmers find this equipment an efficient partner in turning farm wastes into organic fertilizer. It makes their work fast and easy,” Patangan added.

Nahul said their farmers badly need these shredders not only to manage waste but also as a post-harvest facility particularly for cassava, a raw material for flour, and one of Zamboanga’s many crops aside from rice and corn. The training coordinator for cassava and PalayCheck, Nahul said that post-harvest facilities like this are scarce in our region. Only a few are into the sale of such equipment there. He said some farmers travel about 300 kilometers to South Cotabato (Region 12 SOCCSKSARGEN) in central Mindanao just to avail themselves of such facilities.

Zamboanga agri-tourists were briefed on the machine by shredder manufacturer Ramon Uy, Sr. (third from right) through an actual shredding demo with tree trunks (foreground).

“Now they express relief because of the shredder assistance from the DA Bureau of Soils and Water Management complete with training and technical support from RU,” he said.

The RU shredder, a multipurpose machine which has been in the market for 15 years, was adjudged the regional winner in the utility model category of the Visayas Islands Invention Contests and Exhibits in Iloilo City.

“We only give the best material for our shredders to ensure its usefulness to fellow farmers,” said Ramon Uy, Sr., president of the Occidental Negros Organic Producers and Retailers Association.

The delegation also toured the Philippine Rice Research Institute in Barangay Cansilayan, Murcia and the Buro-buro Vermi Farm in Barangay Concepcion, Talisay City, said Edna Garde, OPA public information officer and tour guide.

“They found out that PhilRice does not practice calendar spraying and is judicious in using chemical for rice production,” she said. In Buro-buro, they learned how to make bokashi organic fertilizer and vermicomposting, Garde added.

“We are happy to host tourists who are eager to learn about our experiences in organic farming,” Garde said. A landmark decision to make Negros Island the Organic Food Bowl of Asia was made five years ago by the Negros Occidental and Oriental Provincial Governments. “Organic farming helped pave the way for agri-tourism,” she said.

An RU staff demonstrates to Zamboanga agritourists how to make Eco-Charcoal that is chemical-free and safe for cooking.

Agri-tourism is a priority of NEGROS FIRST, the strategic development program of Governor Alfredo Marañon, Jr. and Vice Governor Genaro Alvarez, Jr. NEGROS FIRST seeks to optimize the potentials of Negros Occidental as an agricultural province to ensure food sufficiency and agricultural productivity and generate livelihood.

This month, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan enacted the Provincial Sustainable Tourism Code of 2010 geared towards strengthening tourism development and promotion as another major industry of the province next to sugar. Provincial Board Member Nehemias de la Cruz, chairman of the SP Committee on Tourism, encourages the active participation of the private sector in agri-tourism for rural development.

Toured by Edna Garde (third from left), manager of FITS OPA Negros Occidental, Zamboanga agritourists, most of them first-timers in Negros, relish the vintage locomotive at Bacolod City’s Panaad Park.

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