Hundreds of farmers benefit Yamang Bukid-Tesda agri educ scholarship

Published: January 6, 2020 01:25pm | PUERTO PRINCESA CITY


Yamang Bukid Farm, Palawan’s top farm tourism destinations is spearheading farming education in communities after it has helped realize the dreams of hundreds of scholars who late last December finished agriculture-related short courses.

In partnership with the government’s Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), the farm tourism destination in Puerto Princesa City’s Barangay Bacungan was the venue of over a month of instructions on various agriculture-related short courses.

(Photo by Yamang Bukid)

The national certificate level II (NC-II) accredited programs included courses on organic fertilizer making (three batches), hog raising (two batches), field budding and grafting (one batch), propagation activities leading to horticulture (one batch), animal production for poultry-chicken (two batches).

According to Bro. George Maria, Yamang Bukid Farm Palawan vice president for community relations, the scholarships were handed to grassroots-based beneficiaries under the auspices of the office of Palawan 3rd district Rep. Gil “Kabarangay” Acosta Jr.

Scholar-graduates were also awarded Tesda certification on production of various concoctions leading to agriculture crops production (one batch), plants crops leading to agricultural crops production (one batch) and land preparation for agricultural crops production with three batches.

(Photos by Yamang Bukid)

The government, through Tesda, has been pushing for farming education particularly in rural communities in a bid to revitalize the stagnating agricultural sector in the country.

The more than 20-hectare farm destination, which has been popular for its well-manicured sunflower gardens, became the latest addition of learning sites for sustainable and organic way of farming after it was accredited as such by the Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Training Institute (ATI) as well as a farm school by Tesda early this year.

(JL)

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Ecological agriculture
key to food stability
(Dr. Elderico Tabal, PhD)

  • Imagine how crowded the Philippines could become in 2030. The current population is already more than 107 million and is expected to hit 109 million by the end of 2019 according to the Philippine Population Commission. Food self-sufficiency will surely preoccupy whoever is in government. In contrast with the 20th century, when food was relatively cheaper, the 21st century is expected to see food prices rise as a result of food shortage. Hence, “the world is just one poor harvest away from chaos in the grain markets. Food prices will rise to previously sunimaginable levels. Food riots will multiply, political unrest will spread and governments will fall,” said Lester Russell Brown, founder and president of Earth Policy Institute, based in Washington D.C. In the Philippines, food demand will rise while land areas for low land agriculture will continue to shrink due to human pressure and will further escalate food shortage. Eventually not be able to meet the two of the most important Sustainable Development Goals (SGD 1 & 2) set by the Food and Agriculture or FAO and that is to “end poverty and hunger”.

    Ecosystems in the uplands are very attractive for utilization because of its rich natural resources. However, the unregulated and often indiscriminate activities done to meet food demands in these fragile ecosystems have led to the degradation of the upland habitat. Widespread cutting of forest resources which resulted in the loss of habitats and biodiversity. Charcoal making from wood products have become a lucrative enterprise which pose an alarming concern on forest ecosystems. This practice lives open areas vulnerable for change in land uses. One of these is the practice of slash and burn or “kaingin system” which contributed to further soil degradation and loss of natural soil-biodiversity. Soil erosion is one form of soil degradation and if left unattended it will continue to bring negative effects to lowland communities and in coastal areas. Soil is not only the major natural resource on which human being depends for the production of food but also plays a key role in maintaining the complex terrestrial ecosystems and climate systems of our planet.

    According to the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), the recent rapid increase in human population has placed a great strain on the Philippines’ soil resources. The continuing population pressure required the use of more lands to meet food demand, which had resulted in massive deforestation causing undesirable ‘on and off-site’ consequences. The practice of ‘till-plant-and-fertilize’ cropping pattern has caused constant threats to the upland ecosystems. These constraints are expected to escalate as food demand is expected to increase. The solution to the problem of providing enough food in the future now depends on the extent of productivity level of our available lands including those lands which are too steep to till but are currently used for agriculture. However, uplands or steeped land conditions used for agriculture can further induce soil erosion which will lead to soil fertility loss and crop yield decline.

    The Yamang Bukid Farm or YB Farm located in Barangay Bacungan, Puerto Princesa has exemplified the so called “forest-coupled-agriculture”, a system coined by Dr. Baguinod, a retired professor of the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB). This is a modified model of ecological agriculture considered by the Food and Agriculture Organization or FAO as an outstanding mitigating measure to help address environmental hazards and conservation of the upland ecosystems. This strategic objective within the work of the FAO opens the door more widely to ecological approaches to agriculture. It explicitly recognizes that sustainability is as much a goal as production, and the two must be attained together. Ecosystem services, the multitude of benefits that nature provides to society – underpin agricultural production. Understanding the important functions of these services – from maintaining soil health to natural pest control and pollination – is vital, said Barbara Herren of Sustainable Food Trust based in the US.

    This is why Yamang Bukid Farm is focused on “ecosystem services and biodiversity for food and agriculture” or simply the “forest-coupled-agriculture system” in the uplands in order to ensure healthy farming that promotes healthy soil environments and sustainability of healthy food supply for today and tomorrow for the Filipino people and the world. This is FAO’s ultimate hope on sustainable food production system by protecting soil, water and climate, promotes biodiversity, and does not contaminate the environment with chemical inputs and genetically engineered materials.

    (Dr. Elderico Tabal holds a PhD degree of agronomy from the University of the Philippines-Los Banos and is a consultant for Yamang Bukid Farm. Doc Rico also teaches various agronomy and forestry courses at a state university in western Mindanao)
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Farmers, tourists toil for art at Palawan attraction

  • PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Hundreds of farmworkers in a farm tourism destination here literally tried their hands on a painting session that showcased their talents and opened up their dreams and life aspirations on canvas. The hand-painting session dubbed “Guhit ni Ama (Father’s Drawing)” is a project involving employees of emerging farm tourism destination Yamang Bukid Farm in Barangay Bacungan here.

    A lady tourist shows off her opus "I love Agutaya" during a hand painting event by farmer-employees and guests at Yamang Bukid Farm-Palawan recently
    (photo by Jennifer Milante)

    Part of drumming up its fifth Agros Festival for farmers, the sprawling agri-tourism attraction initiated the event “to honor all farmers and give them an avenue for their artistic skills they they usually underestimate,” said Bro. George Maria, Yamang Bukid Farm’s vice president for community relations.
    Initiating the activity were brothers Adonis and Julius Opiala and J-joy Umambong, the farm’s resident visual artists.

    Body of work created by farmers and tourists during a hand-painting event by farmer-employees and guests at Yamang Bukid Farm-Palawan recently
    (photos by Reden Villaester)

    Most of the artworks centered about the farmers’ simple dreams and environment, with subjects like houses between rolling hills, a garden with sunflowers labelled “Yamang Bukid Farm” and standalone sunflowers.
    Interestingly, the activity caught the attention of other farm employees as well as guests who dirtied their hands to try their painting skills.

    Their subjects were as diverse—about two islands and a boat against a red sky and signed with “I love Agutaya”, to a messy attempt at psychedelic impressionism, and to a gray cloud against a blue horizon which according to the artist, was the noxious Indonesian haze now blanketing Palawan’s skyline.

    Against a background of sunflowers, farmers literally try their hands on painting their dreams and aspirations during an art session at Yamang Bukid Farm-Palawan recently
    (photo by Frinston Lim)

    “I’m surprised I can paint,” exclaimed farmer Sonny Tesado, who worked in one hand due to a disability caused by a motorcycle accident several years back, showing his painting of a huge tree with what appears like sunflowers growing around it. “This activity showed our farmers are not only creative at growing food but also at drawing their aspirations on canvas,” said Maria.

    The event’s output were put on display at a kiosk converted as temporary open gallery inside the farm, where guests can buy the artworks for as low as P350 each, with the sales revenue going back to the farmer-artists.

    With the overwhelming success of the activity, Maria said they were considering to hold it on a regular basis, probably once in a month.
    (JL)
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Palawan farm destination gets gov’t boost for dairy production

  • PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Yamang Bukid Farm, one of Palawan’s most visited tourism destinations, is embarking on dairy production to help improve the nutrition of school children, especially those in public schools.

    Photo by Br. George Maria

    This after the farm tourism destination in the city’s Barangay Bacungan availed of a soft loan from the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) to raise imported and high quality breed of carabao that can be a good source of milk and other dairy products.

    Some 11 Murrah buffaloes were initially given by the Nueva Ecija-based state animal propagation hub in a “public-private partnership scheme” to the Puerto Princesa City farm destination, according to Dr. Arnel del Barrio, PCC executive director.

    Photo by Br. George Maria

    “This is part of our carabao enterprise development wherein we help cooperatives, individual farmers (and) families by lending them the carabaos like a soft loan.
    Beneficiaries like Yamang Bukid Farm repay it with another carabao which will be given to (another beneficiary),” Del Barrio said.

    Ten female buffaloes (also technically known as cows) and a bull were received by Yamang Bukid Farm and were promptly shipped from Nueva Ecija midweek.

    While at sea, one of the four pregnant buffaloes gave birth to a healthy female calf affectionately called “baby YB.”

    Hezir Rabaya, one of the farm’s managers who fetched the herd said a concrete barn was built on a hill overlooking the sprawling farm to house the animals.

    “We have enough facilities and personnel for this project,” said Rabaya.

    The farming destination, Rabaya said, has several employees who underwent training on quality milk production at PCC recently. These Yamang Bukid employees are the ones who will help him in taking care pf the imported water buffaloes and in doing the milk production.

    Del Barrio said PCC typically disperses 200 carabaos yearly on average and that Yamang Bukid Farm is among the “numerous applicants” to the program.

    “Yours is exceptional. Your story of doing business to help others is inspiring. I also came to know that you are accredited (as a training center) by (Agricultural Training Institute). In short, you have everything PCC can hope for in a partner (in this project),” the PCC head said.

    He said both PCC and Yamang Bukid Farm are on the same advocacy of helping provide livelihood to farmers and their families.

    “The bottomline is to help alleviate poverty and give good nutrition to the schoolchildren,” the official said.

    Del Barrio said Yamang Bukid can also include dairy and milk production a component to its ATI-accredited trainings and further boost its capabilities as a learning site.

    The sprawling farm tourism draw, which attracts at least 5, 000 visitors weekly, is known for its well-manicured gardens of ornamental plants, succulents, among others and is into sustainable farming of vegetables and other crops.

    It employs nearly 300 farmworkers, over 90 percent of whom are former illegal loggers and charcoal-makers who have since become protectors of the environment.
    (Juan Lim)
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