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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Former illegal loggers
reconcile with nature

  • Yamang Bukid Farm’s observance of Earth Day 2019 took an inspiringly ironic turn: Former illegal loggers –over a hundred of them —led the whole day tree-planting event on April 22.

    Leading representatives of Palawan-based NGOs, local officials, including Palawan coastguards, the illegal loggers-turned-farmers vowed to take care of a thousand saplings of various species they help plant.

    Organized by the Yamang Bukid Farm, the tree-planting event in Barangay Bacungan, Puerto Princesa, began a Holy Mass attended by hundreds of participants.
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Yamang Bukid Farm draws over 254,000 visitors in 2019

  • Yamang Bukid Farm is among the most visited tourism destinations in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, drawing over a quarter of a million guests last year, government data released recently revealed.

    At least 254, 449 local and foreign tourists visited the 20-hectare farm tourism destination in Barangay Bacungan in 2019, according to a report Friday by online Palawan News.

    Citing data released by the city government, the report said Yamang Bukid Farm placed fourth in the list of the most popular destinations for tourists in tourism-magnet Puerto Princesa.

    Topping the list is Baker’s Hill, a privately-run hilltop destination in Sta. Monica village where popular Palawan delicacies and other pasalubong (souvenir) are sold. It attracted some 630, 455 visitors last year.

    The UNESCO-heritage site Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) came in second with 331, 356 visitors. Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center was third, logging in 272, 881 guests.

    Rounding up the top five is Luli Island resort off Honday Bay, drawing at least 144,965 tourists.
    Yamang Bukid, a two-year old sprawling farm has been popular among tourists for its well-manicured flower gardens and delicacies such as sumbulo—a saccharine glutinous rice cake cooked in bamboo and flavored with health and wellness herbs—among others.

    The Farm has some 300 employees, more than 90 percent of whom are former illegal loggers and tree poachers.

    It is also an advocate of sustainable and organic agriculture. Last year, Yamang Bukid Farm, has embarked in a partnership with Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) in teaching modern farming methods and technology to the grassroots in Bacungan and nearby communities.
    (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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