DA exec hails Yamang
Bukid ‘sustainable farming’

Published: September 28, 2018 07:00am | Puerto Prinsesa


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Officials from the Department of Agriculture have lauded the initiative of Yamang Bukid Farm in promoting sustainable agriculture in transforming an undeveloped upland community here into an emerging agri-tourism destination.

In her visit to the sprawling farm during its 4th Agros Festival last Feb. 16, DA Undersecretary for administration Evangeline Lavina praised the farm’s effort in enlisting the help of the community in Bacungan in the endeavour by employing illegal loggers as farm workers.

Lavina said Yamang Bukid Farm’s model should be replicated by other farms elsewhere in the country as it attempted to solve the problem of widespread forest degradation by giving an alternative livelihood to tree poachers thereby turning them away from illegal forest activities.

With an area covering more than 10 hectares, the farm was a former grassy upland area made productive by villagers through kaingin (slash-and-burn) farming, a highly-destructive method that involves the cutting and burning of a portion of a hill to clear it for farming which scrapes the land of nutrients and induces soil erosion during the rainy season.

Owned by Baguio City-based Yamang Bukid Healthy Products, maker of such brands as turmeric tea 10-in-1, the Yamang Bukid Farm employs about 200 people, over 90 percent of whom are ex-loggers. They enjoy above-average salaries and wages, free lunches and stipend for their schoolchildren.

“Yamang Bukid Farm is an ideal model for sustainable agriculture and tourism. Such practice can hugely help the agriculture sector by employing many people while maintaining the balance of nature,” Lavina said during the tour where she was shown the farm’s various amenities and attractions, such as the sunflower garden, herbal medicine nursery, House of Kakanin (delicacies), the then on-going construction of glamorous camping (clamping) tents, among others.

She witnessed and was entertained how farmers in their blue garb danced “budots” and other modern dance tunes.

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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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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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Yamang Bukid Farm, DA-ATI partner in helping Palawan hog-raisers

  • PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—A farm tourism destination in this city is offering free artificial insemination services as part of its commitment to help backyard piggeries in communities in Palawan.

    One of the swines at Yamang Bukid Farm-Palawan wallows inside its pen. The farm tourism destination is partnering with the Department of Agriculture---Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI) to provide free artificial insemination services to community in and outside Puerto Princesa City.

    Yamang bukid Farm, a 20-hectare farming attraction in Barangay Bacungan has partnered with the Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI) Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan (Mimaropa) for the Artificial Insemination in the Barangay program in the island-province.

    According to Cristina Gonda-Magnaye, ATI-Mimaropa high valued commercial crops program (HVCCP) focal person, the package is worth P300, 000 consisting of AI laboratory equipment from the department.

    Artificial insemination kit is turned over by DA-ATI Mimaropa personnel Cristina Magnaye and Alma Mae Manalo to Yamang Bukid Farm in Quezon City recently. The farm tourism destination in Puerto Princesa is partnering with DA-ATI to provide free artificial insemination services to swine raisers in and outside Puerto Princesa.

    “Yamang Bukid (Farm) was chosen after it was able to comply with the necessary requirements,” Magnaye said, adding the Farm will give as counterpart the venue and technical personnel for the free use of the AI equipment by the public.

    The turnover ceremony of the equipment was done in the Quezon City of YBFP’s parent company, health and wellness beverage maker Yamang Bukid Healthy Products Inc. recently, with DA-ATI represented by Magnaye and Alma Mae Manalo, livestock program focal person.

    Dr. Glen Calipus, a University of the Philippnes-Los Banos (UPLB)-educated veterinary and molecular biology expert and Yamang Bukid Farm consultant, represented the farm tourism destination.

    Magnaye said the AI facility at Yamang Bukid is one of two such projects for the region this year, with the other one housed in a private-run farm in Mindoro.

    “We want to have more of these facilities in Mimaropa so more hog raisers can avail of these,” Magnaye said.

    Aside from the pieces of equipment, the technology package also included two heads of high quality breed of boars as source of genetic material (ejaculate).

    Known for its well-manicured flower and vegetable gardens and an unending bloom of sunflowers, the farm tourism draw is also into sustainable and organic way of growing plants and vegetables and is among the biodiversity havens in Palawan farm tourism industry.

    (Juan Lim)
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