Organic Agriculture in the Philippines is an unfamiliar soil to most of our farmers. We are so used to conventional farming that we neglect the fact that it harms not only us as consumers but most importantly it harms our very soil. There are many reasons why Organic Agriculture in the Philippines isn’t striving at it should be, but one major reason is that because it is a threat to multinational companies that produces chemical fertilizers and feeds.`
In 2010, organic farmers saw a flicker of hope as the government signed the Republic Act. 10068 or the “Organic Agriculture Act of 2010” in to law which states “An act providing for the development and promotion of Organic Agriculture in the Philippines and for other purposes.” Just the support they needed, it’s never too late.
Just over a week a go, I was able to visit some of the organic farms in Luzon, particularly up in the mountains, Benguet and Sagada. It was a trip worth remembering as I am also a consumer of organic and healthy products (check it out here and here).
The first farm we visited was Lily of the Valley by Mr. Jefferson Laruan and Elisa Laruan at Benguet.
Mr. Laruan describes himself as a 4th generation farmer, from his great grandparents to him. He described how their way of farming evolved from organic to conventional and back to organic. Just like the circle of life. It was an unfortunate incident with chemicals that left him unconscious for more than 24 hours, that lead him back to organic farming.
After the incident he decided to let go of the conventional way of farming and go organic. He started with sayote which does not require spraying and went full time organic in 2005.
What’s different about Mr. Laruan’s method is that he uses Musokaso which is Wood Juice or Wood Vinegar. It is used for pest and decease control and also used for fermentation. Just like every organic farmer he also use compost. The compost they use is what they have around the farm, from weeds, grass, etc. They have to be turned every now and then to add oxygen to help microbes decompose the compost.
Mr. Laruan is happy that they have now been getting support from the local government and encourages that farmers do the same and switch to organic farming. Not only is it healthy but it is also a be a passive source of income.
Aside from the their farm they also have a small house that is available for rent for those who are looking for a place to stay in Benguet, plus you’ll get to taste their Organic vegetables.
By the way here’s Lily of the Valley, Mrs. Elisa Laruan and Ryan of the Mountains with Mr. Laruan.
Our next farm The Master’s Garden was, in my opinion, the most educational and informative because of the way he shared his knowledge to us. He has visual aids and displays for better understanding of what he is about to share. It was no surprise as the owner Mr. Ambrosio “Pat” Acosta, teaches organic farming to other farmers who are very much interested.
Mr. Acosta clearly explained the importance of a good soil, which can be achieved without having to use chemicals. “The only thing that we’ve been teaching of the farmers for the longest time is to feed the soil. The crop is just a reflection of the health of your soil.” He is proud to say that The Master’s Garden is the first to be certified organic.
“When crops are growing in a very rich soil, pest and deceases are already negligible. Good soil = Good crops,” he added.
He emphasized on the importance of composting and not to rely on animal waste as plants never absorb animal waste, microorganisms are the ones who help nutrients to be absorbed. You can probably use it for ornamental plants but not for the ones you eat.
His garden includes Mostly salad vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, sugar beets, salad pechay and other culinary herbs.
The Master’s Garden‘s main purpose is to teach the farmers to be able to influence farmers to go in to low input sustainable agriculture. He mentions that he can even give his lessons for free, but they may not value the what he teaches if given for free.
He admits that organic farming will be a difficult start compared to conventional farming. But the fruit(or vegetables) is so rewarding. It may be three times more expensive that ordinary vegetables but it has five times more nutritional content. So it’s like for conventional you pay P3 for P3 worth of nutrients, for organic you pay three times more, P9 for P15 worth of nutrients. The point is your getting more than what you paid for. Plus it tastes better.
I actually brought home lettuce from his Garden and compared it with our what we bought in the market. The ones we bought in the market was already lifeless or have wilted in 2 days, even when refrigerated. The ones I took home form Benguet is still crisp and tasty even after 10 days or could have been longer if it was not consumed.
Organic farming is definitely the way to go. Now with the government supporting Organic Agriculture in the Philippines, you have more reasons to convert. Take the risk, join the harvest.
Stay tune for the part 2 of my Organic Agriculture in the Philippines series. We will feature one of Mr. Acosta’s student and a coffee farmer from Sagada.