Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Organic farmers earn more, but still seek help

Organic farmers earn more, but still seek help
By Katlene O. Cacho
Sun.Star Cebu – Business
July 13, 2010

Increases in farm output and income are among the benefits the farmers of Sudlon II and Tabunan have been enjoying since they gradually shifted from the inorganic to the organic type of farming.

This has also opened the way for both barangays to become vegetable suppliers of Kumprahan Supermerkado, an innovative community store that provides products at market prices art Bridges Town Square in Mandaue City.

Aladin Pagatpat, 34, a farmer of Barangay Sudlon II, said organic farming has allowed him to reduce production costs and increase income at the same time.

“I normally spent P2,000 for the production and earned a net income P4,000. But when I shifted to organic farming, my production cost went down to P900 and I earned a net income of P4,100 every harvest,”  said Pagatpat during the Organic Farm Tour last Saturday.

This increased income was due in part to increased demand for organic products, as well as the elimination of the middlemen in the selling process.

Pagatpat is a member of the Sudlon Farmers Livelihood and Training Services Association (Sufaltras). He owns a hectare of land planted with high-value crops like lettuce, beans and tomatoes, among others. He said his vegetables are 70 percent organic and 30 percent inorganic.

Capt. Pricillo Alborez of Sudlon II said Sudlon farmers have slowly shifted to organic farming because of the growing demand for a healthy lifestyle among consumers.

He said the technology intervention of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) has helped farmers improve the quality of their vegetables, which they supply to the market. Sudlon II has about 2,000 residents whose primary source of living is farming.

PBSP, Alborez said, introduced vermicomposting, a process of producing
organic fertilizer (vermicompost) from biodegradable materials with the help of earthworms.

PBSP is the largest corporate-led social development foundation in the Philippines. It is the first of its kind in Asia, leading the promotion and practice of corporate social responsibility.

Despite the benefits of organic farming, farmers of both areas still need full support from the government in terms of the supply of farm equipment, loans and market access.

“We hope the Aquino administration will extend its full support to the farmers, especially in helping us market our products directly to companies or restaurants without having to course these through the middlemen,” said Alborez.

The farmer-members of the Battalion Irrigators Association of Tabunan have likewise asked for support infrastructure like road improvements to help them transport their goods to the market.

Tabunan is estimated to be more than 30 kilometers away from JY Square in the city proper.