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PIA Press Release

Siquijor infocaravan helps farmers cope with farm crisis

By Pilar Macalino Cabanlas

Siquijor (25 June) -- Farmers can now avail themselves of 'clinical advice' on different farm commodity production problems and issues as the provincial government of Siquijor in collaboration with the department of agriculture, municipal local government units, BFAR, PCIC, launched a series of information caravan with technokliniks (consultation with rice, corn, hvcc, livestock, fisheries experts) in strategic areas all over the province .

DA Secretary Arthur C. Yap said that the info caravan aims to increase farmer's awareness of and access to technologies and development programs designed to increase their productivity in the midst of increasing input prices. This activity will also help push proven technologies like organic fertilizer and location specific interventions to increase yield.

Through the technoklinik, experts of the different banner program commodities from the department of agriculture, LGUs and DA-attached agencies convene with farmers to personally provide answers to their farm related problems and queries.

Since the high cost of fertilizers is currently a major issue among farmers, the info caravan emphasizes on the [promotion of cost-reducing and yield enhancing technologies. Guidelines on the provision of inputs under the GMA program also became a focus of attention.

One of the technologies is the use of the leaf color chart (LCC), a simple and handy diagnostic tool to help farmers determine the amount of nitrogen to apply on their crop. With the use of LCC, farmers can now save at least one bag of nitrogen fertilizer per hectare.

Also promoted during the caravan are other long-term cost-cutting measures such as the use of organic fertilizer (BIO-N) and conduct of minus-one element technique or MOET (another diagnostic tool in identifying nutrient deficiencies in the soil) as explained by Ms. Lilibeth Caroro Techno Demo expert.

According to Ms. Avelina Pis-an "BIO-N" incharge, the incorporation of organic fertilizer is important as it increases the amount of available nutrients in the soil". Farmers can eventually save on inorganic fertilizer when these become available for plant use". One pack of BIO-N for 3 kilos corn seeds while l packs BIO-N for every 10 kilos of rice seeds. This organic fertilizer can enhance the germination of seeds.

MOET on the other hand, is a simple pot experiment that tests the availability in the soil of other major nutrients such as phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, copper, and zinc in soil.

On extension, education and training, programs and projects implemented by the provincial government funded through 20% provincial development fund were hands on training for livelihood and income generating projects. Submission of project proposals is required from farmers/fisherfolks association.

Irrigation development and infrastructure support was also taken up during the info caravan. Post harvest facilities that maybe availed of by the farmers like flatbed dryers from the Bureau of Post Harvest and Research as well as repair and rehabilitation of irrigation canals were also addressed.

The information caravan is also a means to introduce the DA FIELDS program. Mr. Renan Ansing a representative of DA PATCO was tasked to discuss the matter. FIELDS according to Mr. Ansing stands for Fertilizer, Irrigation, Extension, Loans, Dryers, and Seeds is a strategic development framework that DA is advancing to help realize the government's goal of achieving food self-sufficiency. "FIELDS" actually is SACY's (Secretary Arthur C. Yap) priorities to support his program thrust for agriculture and fisheries. He believes that 'fields' can spur agricultural productivity.

Dra. Bernardita Tabada, Provincial Veterinarian, talked about priority programs on livestock. On top of the list according to her is the A.I. program for large animals which aims to upgrade the breeds of native animals in the province for business and consumption. Artificial insemination is a practical technique where a female animal dispersed to a farmer is obliged to return 2 siblings to another recipient. "Pahulam Ug Toro" is a new strategy where a hybrid buck is lent to a farmer for 2 months until all female goats in the neighborhood can avail of the buck services.

Rabies Free Siquijor program was also being intensified in the campaign. Control and prevention of Animal diseases specially control of economically important diseases such as swine flu, and bird flu is paramount among livestock programs.

The fisheries sector headed by Mr. Warren Inao, Fishery Officer talked about fisheries services of BFAR-LGU. A joint project of BFAR-LGU on tilapia culture using genetically enhanced tilapia fingerlings dispersed among farmers as dole out for added livelihood fisherfolks and his family most especially the displaced fishermen. Projects like gears for spear fishing, fish cages, seaweeds culture, and fishing gears (net fishing) are provided as an offshoot of displaced fisherfolks as well a livelihood and income activity for the fisherfolks in the province. Protection and regulatory services that includes quarantine services, inspection and issuances of shipping permits on fishery products, seaborne patrol on coastal areas and the bio-physical underwater where strict monitoring and evaluation of all existing marine sanctuaries are being done became an interesting topics for the participants.

Mr. Aniceto Rebayla of the Philippine Crop Insurance presented the importance of insuring crops and livestock's on the premise that not one is sure of the destiny of farm products since natural calamities may just peep in like a theft of the night beyond human control. The importance of insuring livestocks, crops and even farm machineries is very important. Even farmers himself must secure his ownself and were encouraged to avail of automatic death benefit of P10,000 ready for any in eventualities, There are eligibility requirements to different insurance coverage's where a farmer can avail.

Aside from technokliniks, the info caravan also involved exhibits and distribution of info materials on rice, corn, hvcc, livestock, crop insurance, and fisheries info materials, distribution of vegetable seeds "pinakbet" and packs of BIO-N and boxes of trichogramma.

The info caravan kicked off in Lazi, Siquijor on April 29, 2009 and ended in Siquijor, Siquijor on June 5, 2009. (PIA) [top]

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