Bukidnon, NorthMin organic rice country by 2013, says expert

SINAYAWAN, Valencia City (MindaNews/28 Sept) – An organic rice expert from the National Irrigation Administration predicted that Bukidnon and the rest of Northern Mindanao’s rice lands will be organic by 2013 with a program boosting the demonstration of organic rice farming throughout the region.

Ildefonso Natingga Jr., NIA-10 organic rice demonstration officer, told MindaNews recently the feat is possible with the domino effect starting from farmers who are taking part of the agency’s organic rice demonstration project among irrigators’ associations in Northern Mindanao.

He said they have developed half a hectare of rice farms in 95 sites around the region as organic rice demonstration farms, which is programmed up to 2013.

Natingga admitted that the project, a joint undertaking between the Department of Agriculture 10 regional field office and the NIA-10, is the same P30-million project plagued by controversy in the questionable supply of organic fertilizers, which a Department of Agriculture fact-finding team found to be fraught with irregularities.

But he said the program used another type of organic and liquid fertilizers produced and supplied by another firm based in Cebu. He said unlike the organic fertilizers supplied by MLB Enterprises sourced from producer Bayugan-based 3K and C Enterprises, the present brand of fertilizers are effective in the demonstration farms he developed.

Julius Maquiling, NIA-10 regional director, said earlier that his office took the project using DA funds to support the irrigators’ associations.

Natingga said from the estimated 45 cavans of palay produced from the half-hectare farm using synthetic fertilizers, farmers participating in his demo-farms now produce from 59 to 81 cavans per half hectare.

“There is no (crop) failure in organic farming,” he said in an interview. Natingga said 71 of the 95 test sites for organic farming is in Bukidnon.

He said farmers in Valencia and Maramag who discovered the high yield of organic fertilizers convinced their neighbors through word of mouth.

He said this will help the government propagate organic farming.

But he stressed that it is possible only with the use of the right organic materials.

Natingga, however, refused to comment on what happened to the procurement process of the P30-million organic fertilizers project of NIA 10.

He said he, too, found the first batch of organic fertilizers supplied by 3K and C Enterprises good. He used it in the demo-farms. But he stopped using it when they ran out of stock.  When the controversy broke out, he started using organic fertilizers from other sources. But Natingga said the farmers may eventually have to produce their own organic fertilizers.

He said they are looking at organizing the irrigators’ associations as producers of organic fertilizers, too.

Natingga said they are proposing to subsidize a piggery farm where farmers will share as counterpart the shelter and the hog head. The NIA may subsidize the feeds for the initial run of the farmers. He said the waste from the piggery can be used in producing organic fertilizer for the farmer’s rice production needs. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)