By CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN, Contributing Editor
TAGO, Surigao del Sur -- For the first time in many years, lowly farmers in this conflict-stricken impoverished village of Lindoy who are now into organic farming have yielded bountiful harvest on their rice lands.
Two farmer-siblings who belong to Lindoy Bio-organic Farmers Association proudly said that their yield in their harvest on Monday have at least doubled when they fully embraced the organic farming technology taught by Ignacio Lauzon Jr. and his two farming expert colleagues of Good Harvest Bio Organic Farming Inc.
Five of the 27 members of Lindoy organic farmers group are expected to harvest this month which was realized through the persistent effort of Lt. Col. Randolph Rojas, commanding officer of the Army’s 36th Infantry Battalion, with his Ka-Palay-apaan peace building project.
Rojas said Ka-Palay-apaan (coined from a mixture of Tagalog words, peace and rice) is a joint initiative among stakeholders in the government to help the poor Lindoy farmers liberate from “high cost yet low yield” old farming methods.
For farmer-brothers Bonifacio and Alhamar Baldinar,their yield of 50 to 60 bags of rice per hectare respectively is a life changing miracle especially that they lost heavily in the previous harvest season burying them further into indebtedness from loan sharks.
“I have been tending this rice farm for 26 years and this is the first time I harvested 60-70 bags of palay,” said a smiling Bonifacio while gazing through a mechanized harvester plowing around his 1.3-hectare rice field. He disclosed that he religiously followed the advice of Lauzon to properly put the right amount of organic fertilizers and other inputs.
Bonifacio felt more excited when he learned that the organic palay will be sold at P19.50 per kilo which is way higher from their traditional rice which were bought by traders at P12 a kilo during the last harvest time.
Older brother Alhamar,59, who will be harvesting his one-hectare rice land on Friday said he expected to yield at least 50 to 55 bags of palay. He admitted he could breathe normally and no longer washed his hands after spraying organic spray unlike before that still felt dizzy even wearing mask while spraying chemicals.
Local officials led by Gov. Vicente Pimentel Jr. and Tago Mayor Rogelio Pimentel celebrated with the Lindoy organic farmers on their “KANINhawaan Feast Day,” a celebration for a bountiful harvest in this village, where residents have been mass supporters of communist New Peoples Army.
As part of thanksgiving, 20-kilos and 10-kilos bags of unpolished organic grain courtesy of Lauzon were distributed to the guests including media practitioners covering the event.
Impressed by the outcome, Pimentel vowed to prioritize extending power tillers, harvesters and other inputs to the Lindoy farmers from the commitment of Agriculture Secretary Manuel Pinol to Surigao del Sur as he announced that organic rice farming will be replicated in the entire province.
He said he had been a long-time advocate of organic farming even during his first term as governor years back that a local law had been enacted to promote this method apart from an ordinance prohibiting farmers from burning left over rice stalks during harvest time.
Rojas, a native of Bislig City in Surigao del Sur, said he was encouraged to pursue organic farming in Lindoy after he saw many farmers still living in dire poverty even there had been large tracts of rice lands even in neighboring villages.
He believes this method will help address the insurgency problem in Lindoy and other neighboring communities. “We build peace through organic farming who became victims of shackles of high cost of synthetic farming yet suffering for so many years of low yield.
Introducing organic farming to residents in Lindoy did not came easy as Rojas recalled only one of the 25 farmers applied it after a series of lectures and trainings. His persistence however bore fruits after some others gradually followed suit.
Ironically, a banana plantation of Dole-Stanfilco covering hundreds of hectares is located in nearby Anahao Daan village.
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