Reaping the Seed, Learning with Mr. Madrid: How his Interest and Willingness to Learn gave the Most Profit in Bettering His Farming

Written by Administrator on 28 June 2018

One of the major priorities of research and development agencies in the past years is to help farming communities improve their farm productivity and income through the dissemination of science and technology interventions especially now that we are experiencing the adverse impacts of climate change. In our end, it is the use of different modalities to reach the community people and help them improve their farming practices.

Through the different programs of the University through the Extension Directorate, a significant number of farmers have been assisted and supported through its provision of its technical and consultancy services and technologies to communities. Beneficiaries have openly signified their gratitude for the unwavering support and assistance given to them. One of them is Mr. Lyndon Madrid of Dingras, Ilocos Norte, an active School-on-the-Air (SOA) enrolee and technology adopter of the University.

“In 5-years’ time, how do you see yourself?” was the ecclesiastical question that turned the vision into reality, and

“I see myself with my own farm when I go home, venturing into activities. There is life in farming.”  was the answer that started the mission.

Mr. Lyndon Madrid, 35, started as eager learner—enthusiastic to learn through integrated farming. He started by planting pechay and through his earning from his previous work in Manila, he bought three piglets to raise. Helping other farmers also allowed him to raise goats.

Listening through the SOA, Learning through the Radio

From his initial learning experiences in his small farming venture, the School-on-the-Air (SOA) program on Sustainable Rice Production aired last 2013 served as platform of another learning avenue. To recall, said SOA or the Sanayang Pangradyo sa Agrikultura (SPA) was aired every Wednesday and Friday at 6-7 pm at DZEA –CMN Laoag, a joint project of Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) as the funding and implementing agency, MMSU as the co-project implementor, the Ilocos Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (ILARRDEC) as coordinating agency, and Ilocos Norte LGUs as partners, and the technical experts from Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and the University. “Through it, I learned composting to reduce cost of materials such as fertilizer, and the production of concoction. And truly, they are most appropriate in vegetable production. Since vegetables are consumed every day, they must be grown the organic way”, he said. 

More Trainings, More Knowledge and Ideas

Active participation to trainings and knowledge-producing agencies and organizations have also paved the way to enriching his knowledge with new ideas. Through allowing learning and re-learning an open space in the mind and heart, hands do work with sustained motivation to acquiring knowledge. From his attendance to varied training activities, he learned the production of fermented plant juice and amino acids which he followed and researched for improvement. “Those learnings were just the start boosters. I followed some, added some, and saw better”, he said.

Diving in the Internet, Driving Learning

More and more trainings attended also mean more and more ideas added. With his initiative to learn more to improve his practices, the web served another venue to widen his horizons in farming. He joined Facebook Groups and group chats such as the Usapang Palayamanin to boost his knowledge with the practical yet enhanced knowledge gained by other organic farming practitioners around the country. He met veteran farmers who have gained practical knowledge in organic farming who willingly shared what they know. He followed their recommendations such as in the production of fish amino acids minus the foul odour from its fermentation. “The initial way they taught us in making fish amino acids really gave an unexplainable odour.  From our group chat, we shared what we have researched. It worked. Gone is the foul odour, in our case, the procedure yielded a smell like that of apple cider”, he said.

It’s simple. For a kilo of fish or fish wastes, a kilo of molasses goes. Plus a bottle of small Yakult and a handful of rice husk, will solve the smell. The mixture will be fermented in 14 days, and every three days, stir to mix well. It would be best to use pale to mix the mixture better every three days. If the fermentation is under good condition, there will be no molds. If there are, remove them. And a key technique to avoid worms, do it at night since there are no flies in the evening. After 14 days, sieve and transfer in a clean bottle”, he said during his sharing on his working practice in fish amino acids production. The Tinapa Mix was also cited as a good practice from among their discussion in their group chats. Form the 1 litre of the mixture added to 1,000 litre of water, it was proven that a sardine can (which may be 150 or 160 mL) goes well with 16 litres of water. “It is best to apply it early in the morning or late in the afternoon. And if the farmer is industrious, every 7 days of application, marks a good result”, he said.  From exploring to listening and trying, yes, there is work in progress to those who persevere. 

Learning from the Experts 

Encounters with fellow farmers also allowed him to enrich his practices in organic farming such as in the production of fermented plant juice (FPJ) using banana trunk. Through Ms. Concepcion Payapaya, and organic lecturer from Bohol, he learned the enhanced way of producing banana FPJ. “The basic tells us to get banana truck, weigh, and add molasses using 1:1 ratio. Through her, I learned what banana to get and when to get it. The best banana trunk for the procedure are those with 1 meter height as they are still young, the trunk from the root up. And the best time to get them is at 4 am in the morning.  Upon gathering, continue in making it. Add EM-1 (Effective Microorganism-1) (or Yakult) and a handful of rice husk” he said. He added that the addition of rice husk will serve as the food of the microorganisms. “In mixing, a litre of the juice can be mixed to 16 litres of tap water. And in applying, spray early in the morning or late in the afternoon”.

Seaweeds were likewise included in their growing search for enhanced agricultural practices. Members in their group chat living in coastal areas continue to research on the use of seaweeds such as aragan, kelp, and carrageenan as stirred by previous trainings they have attended.

To date, Carrageenan Plant Growth Regulator (CPGR) as foliar fertilizer is distributed to farmers who are enrolled in this year’s SOA and the farmer beneficiaries of the MMSU-PCAARD project on Sustaining Crop Productivity in Climate Vulnerable Areas in Ilocos Norte through the Science and Technology Community-Based Farm (STCBF) on Climate Resilient Technologies. CPGR is an indigestible polysaccharide (carbohydrate) extracted from red seaweeds through irradiation technology. Developed by the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), benefits in the use of CPGR include:

  • Stronger rice stem, thus, rice resistance to lodging
  • Compatibility with rice farmers’ practice on fertilizer application, thus, higher grain yield potential;
  • Increased resistance to tungro virus and bacterial leaf blight
  • No harmful effects on beneficial insects and arthropods, thus, eco-friendly.

Organic Farming and Seedling Growing 

The cropping season is already on. As a seedling grower, he also shared that growing seedling is an easy venture since not all materials are bought. CRH and vermicast are prepared in 1:1 ratio that is, for a pale of CRH, a pale of vermicast is also needed. “The best vermicast is one without chicken dung. It must be cow dung, rice straws, and dried leaves”, he advised, noting that chicken dung is warm, killing the sprouts.

Growing seedlings in seedling trays can be a profitable venture since more and more farmers tend to buy seedlings for planting. They come handy and available, ready for transplanting. For this, he shared that “the advantage of using seedling trays is that one can put them under the shade especially during heavy rains. Transplanting can also be delayed, for example, 45 days to 1 month. Its growth is not so fast unlike on seed bed where it continuously grows”. In vegetable production, on the other hand, he admitted that there are really disadvantages when the seedlings are already old, hence, boosters are needed to reach the days needed for it to fruit.

Learnings and Livestock Raising

Given the onset of rainy season in the province and the need to look after the health of ruminants in the farm, farm practices that ensure their wellness. Mr. Madrid recalled that with the goat dispersal he was able to avail from the University, he now raises 18 goats including the kids, does, and the buck he borrowed from the University.  The goat dispersal project was a CHED-funded project through Central Luzon State University (CLSU) implemented by MMSU in the National Agriculture and Fisheries Education System (NAFES) project, Sustainable Livestock for Farming Systems: Technology Innovation, Utilization, and Commercialization.

From his encounters with people through the social media, he learned from Manzano Farm in Cotabato, the technique in deworming ruminants. Using the 7-7-7-step in deworming, he shared that this technique is straight deworming process every seven days. “If once wishes to use three solutions for that three days, it is fine”, he said. “This Wednesday, for example, ivermectin, next Wednesday valbazen, and the succeeding Wednesday, albendazole”, he continued, “at least, ivermectin already targets internal and external parasites.” He added that “to remove external parasites, use Wax Out in bathing them”. 

Recalling the ones he learned through Mr. Sean Vidad, that plants leaves can serve as natural anthelmintic for goats. “Malunggay and ipil-ipil are the best, especially malunggay. So, if they cut much during the rainy season, plant in vacant lots because these are good for the goats”, he said.  

Un-learning, Learning, and Re-Learning

Learning does come to our reach through agencies dedicated to agricultural and rural development along with our personal experiences. However, it is interest and willingness to really learn that pays off given the varied sources of knowledge and modalities to extend these knowledge. From listening to attending seminars, to having the initiative to learn from those with longer farming experiences to seeking advice and recommendations from other people, to trying and choosing what is best as seen, truly, it takes love for farming to prosper coupled with the compassion to help other farmers better their practices.

Empty your cup of coffee”. With this kind of motto in wanting to learn, there is really is so much to unlearn from the usual practices given the effects of climate change and the adverse effects of human consumption of inorganic chemicals. There is so much to learn and re-learn for these science and technology-based practices to be fully incorporated in our farming. As said, “Listen and be willing to listen. If you want to learn, saanka nga aginlalaing”. In the end, bettering our practice to help others is a seed that springs opportunity and leaves with hope, not only in our farming ventures, but also in uplifting Agriculture in the country (Kimberly S. Miguel & Mercy R. Gano).

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