July 31, 2017
Nearly 270 farmers in Ginatilan, a mountainous area in Cebu are adopting organic farming technology to expand their market and raise their income.
With help from a Japanese volunteer dispatched under the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) Program Mikio Miyazoe, local farmers are beginning to practice soil-conditioning techniques as farms transition from conventional to organic, sustainable practices.
"Some of the farmers are not aware that they can grow premium vegetables better (e.g. leafy lettuce, broccoli) by planting cover crops first such as cowpea, or red sorghum to nourish the soil," explained Miyazoe.
Prior to his dispatch in the Philippines, Miyazoe was a part of the faculty of the Oregon State University. He is also sharing farm practices not just from Japan but also from the United States to farmers including the integrated pest management, and techniques in plant propagation and nursery system.
Farmers in Barangay Anao, Ginatilan have so far held two field trials to test the soil conditioning technique's effectiveness. Based on trials, the yield of one ton per hectare of processed corn could double to as much as 2.5 tons per hectare.
With help from organic farming practices, local farmers will be able to produce safe, healthy, and nutritious farm produce without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Maria Cabañog, a farmer in Barangay Anao said, "We learned how to apply new technologies in our farm such as composting with rice hulls and coconut husks. Our JOCV partner also taught us sustainable farming practices and marketing our products."
Already, farmers' groups Anao Farmers Association, Cambagte Farmers Association, Salamanca Farmers Association, and Mangaco Farmers Association have joined the organic farming initiative through seminars organized by Miyazoe.
Likewise, three demonstration farms were also built for organic vegetable production and for future agriculture tourism activities in Ginatilan.
Early this year, local farmers, according to Miyazoe, already began implementing high-value perennial crops like cacao, coffee, banana, and black pepper using the soil conditioning and conservation practices.
Organic farming is slowly gaining ground in the Philippines and organic produce remains an untapped niche market for many farmers. Data from an international survey on organic agriculture showed that the Philippines has one of the highest growing numbers of organic producers at more than 165,000 in 2016.
"I will continue to help educating the farmers on organic farming until they have grasped fully the new technology. This way, farmers become more resilient and will be able to contribute to a healthy food system in the Philippines," added Miyazoe. "Hopefully, we can encourage more farmers to work on making the soil productive through organic farming techniques to also benefit the next generation of Filipino farmers."
Under the current government, rural and value chain development in agriculture is one of the current Philippine government's socio-economic priorities. In support of this and other priority programs, JICA's Volunteer Program has dispatched a total of 1,632 since 1966 to the Philippines.
JOCV Miko Miyazoe (in blue) teaches farmers from Ginatilan, Cebu how to make composts
Anao Farmers Association members prepare the harvested vegetables to be sold at the local market