KALIBO, Aklan -- Jesryl Maquirang, dressed in green polo shirt, pants and a pair of slippers, is seen roaming around his sunflower farm with a "Plants and Zombies" theme. He is waiting for tourists to come to explore his farm in Barangay San Jose, Ibajay, Aklan.
Maquirang said the sunflower farm is part of the diversified eco-tourism program being developed in their village.
Aside from the sunflower farm, Maquirang, along with several farmers in San Jose, is developing a hectare for sericulture or silk production.
"The thrust of the Aklan Provincial Government is both tourism and agriculture. Our barangay has been chosen to adapt sericulture as an alternative livelihood among us farmers," he said.
Maquirang underwent training in Japan and in other parts of the country in sericulture production.
Aside from sericulture, the farmers in San Jose also engage in vegetable farming to ensure food security in the nearby premier tourism site Boracay Island.
"A Japanese NGO (nongovernment organization) has been helping us grow the silkworm facility since 2017. Our sericulture project has a complete facility for silkworm production using mulberry. The Japanese NGO bought our raw materials of silk and encouraged us to expand in adjacent barangays in Ibajay," he said.
"As farmer, it is also important for us the attitude. I believe that a farmer could become rich given the right perspective and partnerships with various government and nongovernment organizations," he said.
Aside from selling the produced silks, the San Jose farmers also open their doors to tourists this year to explore their diversified eco-tourism farms.
Sericulture or silk farming is the cultivation of silkworms to produce silk. Although there are several commercial species of silkworms, Bombyx mori (the caterpillar of the domestic silkmoth) is the most widely used and intensively studied silkworm.
Aside from Aklan province, Negros Occidental, which is also part of Western Visayas region, is also into sericulture project.
Silks coming from mulberry are considered the finest and expensive fabric in the world. Silks are also considered the queen of fabrics.
In 2015, the Philippine Fiber and Development Authority reported the decline in silk production in the Philippines due to unstable supply. Through expanded production, it is hoped to give farmers a chance to increase and sustain their income. (SunStar Philippines)