Coop promotes natural farming

A GROUP of professionals and entrepreneurs in Cebu has organized a cooperative that promotes natural farming, the Natural Farming and Multi-purpose Cooperative (Natfamco).

Natfamco director Dr. Shawn Espina said there is money in agriculture.

Espina, who is a practicing surgeon, got into natural farming because of the growing health and wellness sector. He noted that doctors like him are constantly looking for healthy alternative that they can promote to the community to counter the rise of deadly illnesses like cancer.

“Times have changed. Back then, most of the patients diagnosed with cancer were in their late 40’s but now the youngest cancer patient I handled is 23 years old. Cancer patients now are really getting younger,” said Espina.

He said diet and lifestyle are among the common factors that cause cancer. Espina said what Natfamco is promoting is a healthier lifestyle by eating vegetables and meat that is grown and raised the natural way.

“The establishment of this organization is more of an advocacy than a business,” said Espina.

Natfamco was established in July this year as a Cebu-based chapter of the Philippines for Natural Farming Inc. a non-profit organization registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission in March 2011.

Natfamco has 15 directors and 13 active members. The organization said it is open for membership across the country.

Natfamco has adopted the Korean natural farming system founded by Dr. Cho Han Kyu in the 1960s. According to Espina, Dr. Cho introduced an alternative way of farming that assures both high yield and good quality that are chemical-free. Davao-based Andry Lim, who was trained by Dr. Cho, shared that knowledge with thousands of farmers across the country.

Dr. Cho’s natural farming method is practiced in underdeveloped countries and communities as livelihood to improve their living. Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Mongolia, Congo, and Tanzania are some of the active countries that practice natural farming.

Espina said they hope to attract more landowners in Cebu to engage in natural farming
because agri-business is a lucrative venture. He said the reason natural-grown products are expensive than those that are commercially grown is because only a few players are serving the huge market.

“Supply is quite limited because not all players have shifted to this industry. But
there is a huge market out there that remains untapped,” said Espina.

For those who only have small lots or backyards but are interested to venture into natural farming, Natfamco director Christopher Fadriga suggested that they do urban gardening.

“The method is similar, you only make use of the resources that is within your little farm,” said Fadriga. He said this can be their entry to permaculture, which aims to “redesign people’s way of life based on nature.”

To ensure that their produce are grown the natural way, Espina said directors of the cooperative conduct quality control among members.

“We ensure quality by policing each other,” he said.

Natfamco is currently raising pork and poultry products and selling these for P88 to 343 a kilo. Espina said members will eventually produce natural-grown vegetables within the year.

The cooperative is now in negotiation with supermarket owners to make their products

available in the market but at present their products can be bought at Merto’s Restaurant on Juana Osmena St.

The plans of the cooperative, according to Fadriga, is to convert their farms into learning sites so people can know about natural farming. They also plan to make their farms “farm-tourism sites” where local and foreign tourists can tend to farm animals, plant, harvest and process farm products.
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