Thursday, July 9, 2015

An Open University for Piddig farmers

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

Piddig Mayor Eddie Guillen
Piddig, Ilocos Norte—A 2,500-square meter shaded area of a hilly village in Cabaroan serves as an ‘open university’ for local farmers here who are interested to venture in organic farming.

Set up by the local government unit of Piddig through a regional convergence initiative program back by multi-line national government agencies, research and extension activities, the farmers’ training school caters to everyone who wants to learn vermicomposting and diversified farming.

Vermicomposting is the process of turning out wastes into organic fertilizer with the aid of friendly and hardworking African night crawlers while diversified farming leads the way how farmers can cope with the high costs of farming inputs by producing organic fertilizer on their own and not relying solely on a single but multiple crops that complement each other in times of need.

For a P5,000 worth of livelihood package exclusive for poor families whose names appear in the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Listahanan program, at least 700 beneficiaries are now engaged into vermicomposting, where they sell their produce directly to the Piddig government.

Piddig Eduardo “Eddie” Guillen said the farmers’ training school in Cabaroan serves as a mini-demonstration farm where these beneficiaries can have a first-hand experience of what organic and diversified farming is all about.

At the site is a nursery of organically-grown Arabica, Robusta and Excelsa varieties of coffee seedlings where farm workers maintain. It is equipped with an irrigation system and motorize power sprayer. Adjacent to it is a vermicomposting house with an array of vermibeds where these African night crawlers are feed with farm wastes and other biodegradable materials available around. Next to it is a stockpile of vermicast, a vermi tea processing area and an odorless livestock where Boer goats and hybrid pigs co-exist under one roof. Behind this open house and a 150,000 capacity seedling nursery are fully-grown napier grass they use to feed the livestock animals.

With a great demand for local employment, Mr. Guillen said they also tapped the assistance of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), granting at least P1 million for its underemployed residents.

To date, the DOLE beneficiaries are now actively engaged in coffee farm development activities as Piddig envisions to become the country’s next coffee bowl, brewing its own local coffee brand in the next few years. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Cris Figuracion, farm manager of the Piddig coffee nursery and training school said anyone who is interested to participate in the program is open to visit the Cabaroan training center anytime. 

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