MY EYESIGHT is fast fading each passing day.
I sometimes wonder if I can sustain writing my column, which has become a part of me for about two decades now.
On occasions, I am tempted to write column pieces and have them stocked in file to be retrieved one after the other for mailing on the day an article is needed.
I would not do it of course. That would make my writing lose the element of reporting, from the perspective of a writer experiencing life on a daily basis. To imagine, manufacture, and package my thoughts and have them published in my column in this manner, in this newspaper, is not right.
I write about agriculture and the struggles of farmers in the countryside who eke out a living on a daily basis. To do that necessarily requires presence with its output delivered in a timely manner, not too long delayed.
As a livelihood, agriculture is confronted with a myriad of changes in its processes that affect the lives of farmers. If I could not address any part, any important activity or event, occurring in the sector as experienced and confronted daily by stakeholders, then it is time for me to retire the pen. But while I am able, by God, I must stay and do all I can while the light can yet work its wonders with my eyes and my head.
Recently, my good friend Ruben Dulagan, Chief of the Livestock and Regulatory Division of the DA-Cordillera Region and myself joined the Agency’s Research Division in their meeting at the Research and Outreach Station (ROS), in Luna town, Apayao.
At the start of the meeting, Mr. Dulagan said that he came to Luna-ROS to see how the partnership between the two divisions could possibly be strengthened and enhanced for the livestock sector.
Almost 32 years in existence, the region has yet to present a small ruminant livestock grower who overcame the problem of growing his own forage for feed purposes. The ROS-Luna itself, with its wide land area, has been growing cattle, sheep, goat and small livestock but could hardly support a targeted livestock dispersal in a sustained manner.
Throughout the Cordillera, local farmers talked about the problem of feed sources, as a major obstacle to livestock production and dairying, for that matter.
While he was yet alive, I recall Dr. Anthony Bantog, has been searching for technology and strategy on forages that responds to the problem of livestock growers.
So far, no concrete steps were identified to address the problem on forages even in areas with enough space that could be developed for the purpose.
After half a day gone into the meeting listening to the proceedings and airing our thoughts, our minds and energies soon became restless and started to drift out into the fields.
Luckily, Mrs. Connie Aligo, ROS-Luna manager, informed us about the success of a farmer, assisted by the station in partnership with the Livestock Division and the Province of Apayao in growing sheep and small livestock in his farm in Lt. Balag, Pudtol, Apayao.
Mr. Romel Dela Cruz Credo, 39, was at the premises when I asked if we could possibly see him. With Mr. Dulagan, we went to see Mr. Credo’s farm, located about an hour drive away from the ROS-Luna premises.
Mr. Credo’s current activities may just provide some if not many answers responding to the problem of livestock growers on forage lack in the region.
At his farm, Mr. Credo planted an area with different kinds of forages like Napier, El Nino Grass, Rensoni, Guatemala Grass, Mombasa Grass, Mulberry, and Tricantera collected from different places all over Luna and Pudtol towns.
Mr. Credo harvests his forage by plots on a weekly cycle. In one month all four plots are all cut where the first plot is ready for harvest afresh again by that time the last plot is being cut as feed to his growing herd of 15 sheep and 4 goats. These small livestock are grown organically, in his farm, in addition to 15 native pigs, and 20 ducks. He has also submitted a proposal to venture into dairying with the DA-CAR.
Pointing to a nearby field, he said that it can yet be developed as feed source if necessary. He said that allowing the animals to graze directly on the forage site is not advisable, because it is not efficient and a waste. “The animals will devour all growing feed in the area in a matter of days if they graze on them,” he said.
Mr. Credo cuts and carries the forage to his animals.
Accompanying us back to the research station, Mr. Credo pointed to several farms along the way who are not making any progress in ruminant livestock production. I ask him why?
“Just let us do it right,” he said. “They do it wrong by simply allowing their livestock to graze. Over time, the livestock are butchered, gone, not sustained. If you grow livestock, you need to develop, grow, and manage your forage well,” Mr. Credo explained.
At the ROS, Mr. Dulagan told me that Mr. Credo, while still new in the business has great chances of success.
I am so glad to see this story unfold at a time when the DA is seriously promoting dairying in the region.