UP expert urges farmers: Keep forests in farms

Published: September 27, 2019 02:22pm | PUERTO PRINCESA CITY


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY——A University of the Philippines-educated crop scientist has urged farmers engaged in natural and organic farming to plant trees and take care of the forests in and around their landholdings to ensure the sustainability of their areas. Dr. Elderico Tabal said farmers should understand the need to balance their farming needs with nature in order to help stabilize the soil and benefit their crops.

The thick forest cover on the fringes of the 20-hectare Yamang Bukid Farm at Bacungan, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan is an excellent buffer zone and breathing space for crops grown within Palawan's emerging farm tourism destination|JM Zap

“Agriculture without a forest is a dead agriculture. The only way to be resilient is to put a forest within your land,” Tabal, an agronomist, told farmers and officials from the local government units of Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan provinces as well as representatives from the Department of Agriculture (DA) during the 7th Regional Organic Agriculture Conference (ROAC) at the A&A Plaza Hotel here, Sept 25.

Dr. Elderico Tabal, a UPLB-educated agronomist stresses the importance of forest cover in agriculture during the 7th Mimaropa Organic Agriculture Congress at Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Sept. 25.|Jennifer Milante

Tabal, who is a faculty member at state-run Western Mindanao State University (WEMSU) and consultant of tourism destination Yamang Bukid Farm, said putting or keeping forests within their landholdings can help farmers or farm owners maintain biodiversity and maintain sufficient water supply to the Farm.

Tabal, said Yamang Bukid Farm, which has over 20 hectares of landholdings in Barangay Bacungan here, follows the natural and biological ways of agriculture. Composed of six sub-farms, two of it are open for the public as Yamang Bukid Farm’s agri-tourism site, while four others are off-limits and planted with high-value commercial crops and herbs (HVCCH).

“At Yamang Bukid, we follow the natural and biological farming system. We try to understand the way of Mother Nature in agriculture,” said Tabal. While the Farm is not certified as organic by the third-party Organic Certification Center of the Philippines (OCCP), Doctor Tabal said the Farm follows both the natural and organic way of farming to enhance production output.

For instance, the Farm uses natural way of controlling pest infestations on its crops and plants by utilizing bees and other natural pest predators. The Farm also practices contour plowing and intercropping as it is located in an area of mostly rolling hills and few flat lands.

Tabal urged farmers and farm owners to support planting of diversified crops to help attract and support population of natural predators and stop relying on commercial and harmful pesticides.

“We also do minimal to zero tillage cultivation in order not to disrupt the soil structure and prevent erosion.

Tabal said farmers, particularly those still starting up, should understand that organic farming is not an easy way of agriculture in its initial stages. “It’s a system that needs to be developed. It takes years to rebuild our lands to their original intended state. It takes years to rebuild your land. Be patient,” the forest scientist said. “It’s not just planting but growing the right crops in the right soil.” During the event which was participated in by over 300 farmers, farm owners and agriculturists, the UP-educated Tabal also discussed Yamang Bukid Farm’s various best practices that include, among others, propagating and raising native chickens and livestock, the introduction of herbs and other plants as pest control as well as the propagation of different animal species like over two dozen of colonies of stingless bees and the use of natural plant-based concoctions as fertilizers and pesticides.

Tabal also announced the various expansion efforts at the Farm’s tourism destination component, saying the farm has become among the must-see destinations in Puerto Princesa and the whole of Palawan.

It has nearly 300 employees, over 90 percent of whom are former illegal loggers.
(JL)


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