Farmers in Region 12 urged to diversify crops

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/14 November) – The productivity of farmers in Region 12 is seen to improve with the promotion of diversified farming systems by the Department of Agriculture (DA) regional office.

Amalia Jayag-Datukan, DA Region 12 director, said the campaign mainly focuses on crop integration by palay or rice farmers.

Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Datukan said they recently introduced the Palayamanan Model Farm Project among farmers to showcase the diversified farming systems.

The project, which was a revival of the agency’s Bahay Kubo concept, is part of the major initiatives of the agency’s Agri-Pinoy Rice Program.

“Aside from rice production, the model farm is mixed with fruit-bearing trees, vegetables and inland fish production, livestock and poultry raising as well as biomass recycling,” Datukan said in a statement.

The official said DA-12 launched last week a Palayamanan model farm in San Gregorio, Barangay Blingkong in Lutayan, Sultan Kudarat as part of the program.

She said the model farm, which is owned by farmer-cooperator Meldirico Prio, features rice production as the main commodity and is supported by the production of various vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants and okra.

Completing Prio’s model farm are production areas for goats, ducks, chickens and tilapia.

Last month, DA-12 opened the first Palayamanan model farm owned by farmer-cooperator Ruperto Gonzales in Barangay Dansuli in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat.

Datukan said the Palayamanan program was launched by the agency to encourage farmers to engage in diversified farming in their respective areas.

“This program also contributes to the attainment of the Food Staples Self-sufficiency Program of DA,” she said.

The official said that DA 12, through its Agri-Pinoy Rice Program, presently provides a grant of P100,000 to farmer-cooperators of the initiative.

Soraida Bangon, DA-12’s regional techno demo coordinator, said the main objective of the Palayamanan model farm project is “to develop an ecologically-sustainable and diversified farming system to increase
small farmers’ productivity and income.”

Besides increasing agricultural productivity, the program also aimed at restoring the fertility of the soil to attain sustainable ecological balance.

“Through this program, sufficient supply of food sources is guaranteed when their profit from rice production is relatively low,” Bangon said. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)