Organic farming-A A +A
As I See It
Saturday, April 6, 2013
THE theme of Panaad Sa Negros Festival 2013 is “Panaad at 20: Celebrating Negros as the Philippines' Leader in Organic Agriculture.” This is one of the highlights of the Negros First agenda of Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr.
I know that it is not easy to have farmer disciples for organic farming. The common attitude is “wait and see.” My friend, Chin Chin Uy, has started to be a disciple by doing great in his small farm at Hda. Maquina in Silay City. His lettuce paradise with variety of herbs is “Fresh Start Organics.”
I take pride in being a “preacher” for his organic farming dogma. Our city agriculturist, Jason Benedicto, former boyscout master-teacher-turned agriculturist has recently become a “guru” of organic agriculture and he has baptized several farmer converts in the country sides. Upland farmers grow red rice, fancy rice and even the 1950 variety of rice.
Organic farming could be started as a hobby in your backyard garden. If you do not have enough space, you can start with bamboo or clay pots, or recycled cans, or your old containers.
Start with easy-to-grow vegetables, try high yield varieties, start feeding your chicken with left over from the table (chop them first, do not give cubes to your pets), and you can fatten a pig (select the Bisaya breed) by using the mixed products of your backyard garden. Having a garden, owning a chicken and adopting a pig could be best medicine to fight boredom, especially if someone is growing old. It promotes health, stimulates the mind, and brings your wife (or husband) closer to you. Organic gardening brings out the best in you.
In your organic farm, you don't use artificial pesticides. Instead, the harmful insects are controlled by swapping the crops around each year, and by using partner plants to lure pests away from others. Your rows of bell peppers could be found next to your row of mustards having bright yellow flowers. Your mustard could be a decoy to attract flying insects away from the bell pepper. Organic farming works with nature rather than against it.
Organic farming is not a new idea. In some places, it has been used for hundreds of years. On a traditional farm like my grandfather's farm before, manure from farm animals (horse, carabao, goat, cow, sheep, and chicken) is used to keep the soil fertile. It could still be best if a farmer maintains a compost pit. Waste food in the farm (rotten fruits) could be used to raise pigs, poultry and fish.
When my grandfather died, a new administrator took over. In that small area, he applied new technology... spraying of pesticides that kill not only garden enemies but also garden friends. He now grows GM chicken in small cages. Lolo used to have roaming native chicken. If cooked into “tinola” with green papaya fruit, “katumbal” leaves and “tanglad,” the taste is heavenly. Lolo used to take me to see flying dragon flies in the meadow, fireflies in jam session during a moonless night, and geckos serenading during their mating season. When I went there last week, the farm is still there but the wild life is already scarce.
Farmer should work with nature. Wild life is not a luxury for the organic farmers, but an essential part of the farming system. Farmers should grow trees in their fields. We call it agro forestry. Your rows of papayas could provide excellent shade and wind protection for the field of corn. When harvest time comes, you have fruits and cereals to augment your income. Organic food sales are growing bigger and faster.
Someday when I retire, I will be a full time organic gardener. I will raise ducks and have supply of century eggs. I could experiment cooking ducks and come out with my own version of “sweet and sour baby duck ribs.” Welcome to my dream. Let's all be disciples of organic farming.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on April 06, 2013.