Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cocoa products exports increased!

Davao City - Volume of Cocoa products exported from Davao City had dramatically increased six fold in 2009. This was revealed by Mary Ann P. De Guzman, acting chief of the export division, Bureau Of Customs XI in an interview conducted by Cacao Watch Editorial Team - a cocao industry development newsletter managed by Nic Richards, the ACDI/VOCA Chief of Party.

Importing countries include USA, China, Netherlands, Thailand and Malaysia.

ACDI VOCA along with other key players - played an important role in developing the cocoa industry in the country through its SUCCESS ALLIANCE II project.

Today, ACDI/VOCA continued to help farmers through Cocoa, Coconut, and Palayaman (CoCoPal) project with funding support from USDA. For more information please visit

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

ACDI/VOCA helps farmers in Mindanao through CoCoPal project

The ACDI/VOCA Cocoa, Coconut, and Palayamanan (CoCoPal) project formally started its Training of Trainers last September 5, 2010 at Malagos Garden Resort, Calinan, Davao City with participants coming from Western and Southern Mindanao.

According to Nic Richards, the ACDI VOCA CoCoPal project Chief of Party, the project aims to establish Village Technology Extension Farms (VTEF); provide farmer training and extension; improve post-harvest practices and infrastructure; improve sourcing of planting material; develop organic, farm based fertilizer and pesticide products and suppliers; and establish agro-enterprise clusters with funding support from USDA.

The training is designed to prepare the CoCoPal Extension Facilitators (CEF) in establishing the VTEF which is the CoCoPal main extension strategy. The CEF will are front line development facilitators that are expected to help 25,000 farmers in Mindanao. The training module includes extension and facilitation with emphasis in the importance of the whole farm planning approach and technical inputs in cocoa, coconut and rice.

For further information please visit

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Agriculture Secretary visits Mindanao

DA Sec. Prospero Alcala visited Mindanao to meet farmers and Local Chief Executives last August 9, 2010.

Sec. Alcala was the first secretary to come down and talk to LCEs and farmers. Among the farmers he met were small-scale banana growers and coconut farmers. He also gave way for the first press conference of Davao City Press Club and also met the governors and city mayors of Region XI.

During his visit, he emphasized organic agriculture as an alternative to conventional farming system which heavily relies on expensive synthetic inputs. He also stressed that there will be no more rice importation in 3 years time. He however said that it is not easy to solve the problem on rice cartel however they are taking actions that cannot be divulge yet.

Sec. Alcala is an engineer by profession but grew as a farmers’ kid. As a former congressman, he authored the Organic Act of 2010 (RA10068) and Climate Change Act (RA9729) among others.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Farmers to join Kadayawan 2010

More flowers,fruits, and livestock farmers joins Davao City in its celebration of Kadayawan 2010 (K10).

You will be able to see various agricultural inputs and products on the agri-trade fair. The annual display for sale of agriculture products and by-products will open on 13th August and will end on 31st August 2010 at SM City Davao Future Development Site.

The activity is staged by Mindanao’s premier floriculture institution, the Floriculture Industry Council of Southern Mindanao (FICSMIN) together with the City Veterinarian Office, City Agriculture Office and the City Cooperative Office.

For further information please visit

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Reforestation Conference Conducted Online

Various participants from Davao City and neighboring areas attended the 2 day on-line conference on reforestation at UP-Mindanao, Mintal Davao City last July 15-16, 2010.

According to Dr. Emma Ruth Bayogan,UP-Mindanao Vice Chancellor, it was "...their first time to conduct a two-day long online conference". The two-day activity was conducted at the UP-Dilliman with online participants from UP-Visayas and UP-Mindanao.

The conference was sponsored by Rain Forest Restoration Initiative (RFRI), Environmental Leadership & Training Initiative (ELTI) and University of the Philippines.

The closing activity was graced by Neric Acosta,President Aquino's ally on environmental issues. He talked about the previous administrations and future plans and concerns on environment in line of the conference theme "Mainstreaming native species-basedforest restoration."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Organic Fungicide and Insecticide: Now Out!

“We finally have it here… and its organic!” says Dr. Angelito DeLa Cruz, a plant pathologist, nematologist, and horticulturist based in Davao City who conducted research on organic fungicide and insecticide. Dr. Dela Cruz happily added “The organic fungicide, organic Insecticide, and bio-nematicide after many years of intensive research is now ready for use by farmers.”

One challenge of organic farming in Philippines is on the field of research and development. Few scientists like Dr.dela Cruz, conducted research with private funding. We are hoping that with Sec. Prospero Alcala of the Department of Agriculture, will look into partnership with private sectors who are involved into research.

With the current findings of Dr. dela Cruz, farmers now have an alternative to synthetic farm inputs. This means lower production cost and higher income for farmers. The organic fungicide and insecticides is now out in the market.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ingredients: A challenge in Organic Agriculture

“It’s hard to do it in large scale farming… I have to look for all required ingredients” says Amad. Amad is a rice farmer who started organic farming in Midsayap, Cotabato. He further commented “If you only have 3-5 hectares it is workable but if you have 25 hectares, I don’t know… I’m mixing synthetic fertilizer again.” I was shocked and little dismayed of what I’ve heard but it could be real.

We accidentally met in at one of the shops at SM Davao. He shared a lot of his experiences, most especially in pest and disease control and we talked for almost 2 hours just standing. As I was listening to him share his predicaments, I thought of Natural Farming (NF) advocates and the new agriculture Sec. Prospero Alcala (as NF practitioner and sponsor of NF bills). I took note of these as one of the challenges in organic or natural farming.

In NF System, farmers can make their own farm inputs using readily available farm waste like coco dust, manure, and other plants materials. Trainings have been conducted nationwide to interested farmers and even institutions like AFP, PNP, etc.

Are we ready to take the challenge? I believe we are. We just need to start in our own backyard. If we don’t have enough resources to make our own inputs, well here’s the good news!

As an alternative, farmers no longer have to make their own organic fertilizer or wait longer periods to process one. There are now products readily available here in Mindanao. They can now directly buy an internationally-certified and Fertilizer & Pest Authority (FPA) approved organic fertilizer here in Mindanao.

What are the advantages of buying instead of making organic inputs? The advantages are:
1. FPA approved. It means it is safe and met the standard
2. Farmers are ensured that its ingredients came from organically grown plant materials.
3. It scientifically tested and proven.
4. Cheap.
5. Less labor.
6. Some offers money back guaranteed.

Organic inputs available now are:
1. NPK
2. Seed treatment
3. Plant growth enhancer
4. Potassium
5. Zinc
6. All purpose spray adjuvant.

Legumes seeds are also available. Price range from P350-500 per kilo only.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Organic Chicken: A result of research in Mindanao

“Is it safe?”

“Does it have drug residue?”

Those are the common questions asked by consumers today.

The development of antibiotic resistance is the common concern of growers and consumers nowadays.
A call for safer and healthier poultry meat! Producers must have an alternative. They can minimize the use of antibiotics as growth promotants.
Antibiotics are commonly mixed with feeds as additives known as sub-therapeutic antibiotics (STAs). It is mixed to enhance growth rate, enhance feed efficiency and prevents outbreaks of some diseases. Generally, commercially mixed feeds for poultry and livestock have STAs.

A consumer said “...lami ang karne ug wala’y tambok, murag native nga manok” (It taste good and doesn’t much fat, similar to native chicken) showing a ‘thumbs up’ sign. Caloy is a satisfied customer. He bought the dressed chicken at Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) where it was grown in natural or organic system. The feeds are low-cost and organic (no STAs). The birds grew to an average weight of 1.25 kilograms in 42 days. He came back to buy for more since he’s assured of a safer and healthier poultry meat.

Before Caloy left the center with a basket of poultry meat in his hand, he insisted for the secret of raising the organic chicken. Without a doubt, we shared this to him. Now, we’re sharing this to you.

In MBRLC, broiler chicken was raised without synthetic drugs or antibiotics. The only supplement used is the homemade fermented plant juice (FPJ) from day 1 until harvest.

In June 2004, a research was conducted by Janoz Xn Yesu S. Laquihon, MBRLC R&D Unit head, and Johanna Schober, a German intern student from Hohenheim University. The study was conducted to evaluate the performance of chickens given with organic supplements.

Prior to the arrival of the chicks, low-cost housing was prepared. A comfortable litter floor (wood shavings) was made with at least 1 sq.ft floor area/chicken. The shavings were treated with indigenous micro-organisms (IMO) which is locally cultured at MBRLC. The IMO is cultured under the bamboo leaves, using cooked rice as media. It facilitates rapid decomposition of feces eventually lessens foul odor and does not attract flies.

The bird receives fresh water with FPJ upon arrival. It soothes their thirst. After fasting for 8 hours they received their homemade booster mash as first ration. The birds were fed ad libitum (without limitation) from starting on the 2nd day.

A tablespoon of FPJ was mixed with 5 liters of clean and fresh water. It served a supplement instead of STAs. FPJ is made of different plant leaf extract mixed with crude sugar and fermented it for 14 days. It can be also used as organic foliar fertilizer in plants.

To give warm welcome to the young chicks, an electric brooder was provided. The lights were lit for 24 hours and were adjusted to a comfortable temperature. The correct temperature is achieved by observing the chicks’ behavior. They would comfortably scatter themselves around the house when the temperature is normal. Else, they would scramble around the heat source if it is cold or would run away gasping when its too hot! The birds enjoyed their heater for 3 weeks.

Few birds died during the conduct of the study. Would it be a disease outbreak?! Birds were observed for signs of illness. Weak birds were taken out from the flock. They eventually died. Nevertheless , a tolerable 8% mortality rate was recorded. To use synthetic drugs is enticing but we decided not to use one and amazingly the rest survived!

The customer left home, carries his poultry meat with a smile in his face for he learned something. Consumers like Caloy, likes to eat meat without chemical residues and less fat. Growing your own chicken in you backyard fed with organic feeds is an alternative! You can produce safer, healthier, high quality poultry meat.

This article was taken from "The Rural Researcher" June 2004. I'm posting this article in memory of my former collegue, Carlos Juano, Research Assistant @ MBRLC, who passed away ahead of us. Carlos and I have worked on research projects in natural farming system.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Davao City: Should they adopt SALT?

“We are looking what we have” says Leo Avila, the newly appointed OIC of Davao City Agriculture Office. Such statement is in response to need of helping the farmers Paquibato District, Davao City. Recently, Mayor Inday Sarah Duterte, have visited the said area due to malaria outbreak. She saw the need to help the farmers and uplift their lives.

So what is the problem?

The problem in slope land farming is soil degradation due to poor soil conservation measures and rapid soil erosion. Most farmers have neglected soil conservation and therefore farm productivity is reduced resulting to poverty (cylic pattern of poverty). It should be reduced if not completely stopped.

What can we help to the said problem? And what can we offer?

I believe we have the human resource, the expertise, and available technology for a sustainable farming in slope land areas. We can help.

The farmers should be trained how to farm better using “Sloping Agricultural Land Technology” or otherwise known as SALT. SALT was developed at Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center by Rev. Harold Watson, Dr. Warlito Laquihon, and Rev. Rodrigo Calixtro. According to the developers SALT is a “diversified farming system, a package technology on soil conservation and food production and a method of growing field and permanent crops together” that can “provides sufficient food, income for the farmer throughout the year.”

SALT is Simple, Adaptable, Low-cost, and Transferable(SALT) technology. In short SALT is SALT. Its objectives are to control soil erosion, conserve soil fertility, increase production, and restore environment.

I’ve been advocating SALT for almost 20 years now. I can’t help to share this since I am a resident of Davao City. Recently, I was invited by an NGO to share the technology in Maa, Davao. The Governor of Capiz region also has invited us to share the said technology sometime in 2007. I also have shared the same on Vegetables Industry Council in Southern Mindanao (VICSMin) conference here in Davao, as well as to farmers Mindanao-wide through a JBIC funded project here in Mindanao.

Why I am so passionate about it?
Because of the following reasons: 1) I have the desire to help poor slope land farmers, 2) I have the opportunity to observe its humble beginnings at Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center, Kinuskusan, Bansalan, Davao del Sur. 3) I believe that it can help answer the problems in slope land areas. And 4) I can’t forget the experience of doing it with my dad in our sloping farm at Mt. Carmel (learning by doing).

The 10 simple steps of SALT are the following:
1. Make an A-Frame.
2. Locate the Contour lines.
3. Prepare the contour lines.
4. Plant Leguminous Trees and Shrubs.
5. Cultivate the strips alternately until the hedgerows developed.
6. Plant permanent crops once every third strips.
7. Plant early harvestable crops.
8. Trim down hedgerows regularly.
9. Practice crop rotation.
10. Maintain the green terraces.

So, you think Mayor Inday Sarah Duterte should look into this? I do hope so.

For further information please contact us @ (082) 271 4038 or 09208688862.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Natural Farming Training for Trainers

Are you a farmer? or a farmer by heart, willing to help others. Help them by teaching them how to make their own farm inputs. Be a certified trainer of Natural Farming!

There will be an Natural Farming seminar on June 21-26 here in Davao City. With the background an experience of Andry and Joji Lim, they will teach us how to farm better. Help our farmers. Go Organic!

For further information please contact Andry & Joji Lim @ 0917 705 1008.