Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Meet MS Job Aranda, the coconut farmer

By Van Kristine Mendoza
Regional Applied Communications Group (RACG)
West Visayas State University

MS Job Aranda
Venturing into the coconut industry is hard but it gives enormous rewards to the hard worker.

This has been proven true by Mr. Job T. Aranda, Magsasaka Siyentista (MS) of the Farmers Information and Technology Services (FITS) Center based in Tubungan, Iloilo.

On August 16, 2011, through the coordination of West Visayas State University with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) who gave the grant, MS Aranda hosted the Science and Technology-Based Farm (STBF) on Coconut Field Day in his two-hectare coconut plantation at Sitio Durog, Lanag Sur in Tubungan, Iloilo.

Aranda’s coconut field day gathered the farmers from the barangays of Tubungan, Iloilo and representatives of the Western Visayas Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (WESVARRDEC).

Supported by the officials of the Municipality of Tubungan and staff of WVSU University Research and Development Center (URDC), MS Aranda’s Field Day featured a program about the Coconut Science and Technology-Based Farm Project and tour of the coco coir factory.

In his speech, Tubungan Mayor Vicente Gargaritano, Jr. said “People want to see first in order to believe. We are all here so others can replicate and practice the technologies that our MS has been doing.”

The STBF Field Day is designed to promote the benefits of science and technology to the farmers and demonstrate the interventions by the MS in his farm.

Under the STBF grant, MS Aranda introduced a number of interventions to rehabilitate his coconut farm. First, to clear the entire plantation, Aranda sought to get rid of rats in his coconut trees by cutting off the branches where they pass from one tree to another. Second, Aranda employed ring weeding and applied fertilizer. Aranda used salt and urea as fertilizer and asked other farmers to do the same three times a year. Third, he made sure that the rat guard is installed and a perimeter fence is constructed. Fourth, he planted ampalaya, camote, peanuts, and eggplant between the coconut trees to facilitate intercropping. Next, he made sure that irrigation of the intercrop and coconut trees are properly built. And finally, he moved to practice pest control which included getting rid of beetle rhinoceros.

After his retirement from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, MS Aranda ventured into farming in 2003. In 2007, he was chosen MS for coconut of Tubungan FITS Center. He helped establish a cooperative to build and operate a coco fiber factory. Because of his efforts and involvement in the coconut industry, he was awarded by the Iloilo Provincial Government Outstanding Coconut Farmer in 2009.

However, just like the biblical character Job, his namesake, MS Aranda had his share of difficulty. In 2009, Aranda said, “we were deprived of things beyond our control because of the El Niño Phenomenon. I could not apply fertilizer to his crops because the heat was just too much.” Add to the high temperature the increasing number of unproductive trees in his farm.

But he did not easily give in. Consequently, Aranda increased production from 30 nuts to 140 nuts or trees per year. He did not only maximize land use by intercropping with vegetables but also increased raw materials for coco fiber production and provided appropriate technologies to other coconut farmers. He also helped provide livelihood for mothers working in the coco coir factory and thereby helped increase farm income.

At the Iloilo Horti 2010, coco coir products from
FITS Tubungan were featured by WESVARRDEC.
Just like the ideal farmer scientist, MS Aranda takes part in various forums and trainings in coconut production together with other stakeholders in the coconut industry. In these opportunities, his knowledge is also enhanced. Through the years of engaging into coconut production, MS Aranda’s farm has become a venue for farm research and cross visits by other MS, farmers, students, and agricultural technicians.

“Farming is simply my passion,” MS Aranda says.

Aside from the coconut plantation, Aranda also farms five hectares of rice land. And perhaps not content to rest on his laurels, the tireless farmer practitioner even hopes to engage into Darag native chicken industry in the future.

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