Farmers, gov't join forces in promoting organic farming
by Noel Baguio
Davao City (12 November) -- About a thousand participants composed of farmers, government officials and personnel and guests gathered together to promote ecologically sound and sustainable practices for crop production in Davao del Norte.
The multisectoral crowd gathered to promote sustainable agriculture as better and viable alternative to costly and harmul chemical-based farming, during the recent 16th Provincial Integrated Pest Management (IPM) - Farmers Field School (FFS) Congress that was held at the Municipal Gymnasium of Carmen.
With the theme, "Organic Farming a Key to Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Change Mitigation," participants were given updates on the sustainable management of pests in major crops such as rice, corn, vegetables, fruits and other high value crops.
Husein Talagdu, IPM coordinator of the Republic of Bangladesh, shared the experience of his country regarding their FFS on climate change.
He said developing countries face serious effects of climate change such as reduced crop yield and spread of climate-sensitive diseases.
According to him, the IPM program is part of the concerted global action needed to enable developing countries, like the Philippines and Bangladesh to adapt to the effects of climate change.
This was affirmed by Wilma Cuaterno of the Bureau of Plant Industry and Damaso Callo, Asean IPM Expert, who also shared the IPM experience of Negros Oriental.
The guests lauded Davao del Norte's remarkable implementation of the IPM program.
Acting Governor Victorio Suaybaguio, Jr. said the sustainable agricultural method is a development intervention that truly reaches out to the poor.
He added through the IPM program the province fortifies its commitment to food security, to the well-being of the Dabaonons, and to mitigating climate change and global warming.
DA-RFU-XI Regional Director Carlos Mendoza further said the demand to increase production to feed the ever-growing population has taken its tool on the environment, since farmers often resort to indiscriminate use of harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
He said the haphazard farming method caused irreversible damage to the ecosystem, threatening the long-term economic viability of farming communities.
This grim reality compelled the Provincial Government of Davao del Norte to adopt the IPM program in the early'90s to increase food production and safeguard the environment.
The IPM program slowly reversed the harmful effect of chemical inputs to humans and the environment, said Prov'l Agriculturist Dominador Encarnacion.
He revealed about 60 to 70 percent of the farming population in Davao del Norte are now applying the IPM technology.
IPM is a combination of pest control techniques that includes the use of beneficial insects to contain harmful pests, to attain good yield without harming humans and the environment.
Farmers study the proper care and management of crops, including the preparation of organic or natural farm inputs, in various FFS sites around the province.
They are also taught about the traditional planting method based on the lunar cycle, which has been scientifically-found to help ensure good harvest.
Encarnacion said his office also sustained the IPPM program, being offered as a special curriculum in pilot public elementary and high schools in the province, even after the Netherlands World Education project on IPM ended in 2007.
Like their farmer counterparts, the pupils are taught actual planting of crops, identifying of friendly insects, deciding when to apply chemicals, and how to concoct organic substances to control pests. (CIO-Tagum City) [top]