Puro National High School 4H club can be classified as a unique 4H club in the region. It is because the club is based and attached to an educational institution. The club was organized in 1970 during the early years of the ATLAS mining corporation. The company together with the municipal agriculture office of Aroroy saw the potential of the youth in coming up with laudable projects in the community. Initially the club was introduced to livestock and poultry projects. They were able to supply meat and meat products to the employees of ATLAS Mining Corporation and the excess of the product were sold to the Aroroy Municipal Market. The project was able to generate job among the youths and one of which is Mr. George Rapsing now a Technology and Livelihood Education Teacher of Puro National High School. He was also one of the brain child/organizer of the school-based 4-H club. When the mining company ceased its operation so is the 4Hclub.

The club left a mark in the community with its projects and activities. The employment opportunities it offered plus the fresh produce they provided to local consumers cannot be over emphasized. The place where the project was located encouraged local residents to settle in the place and later called it Sitio 4H.

Encouraged and inspired by the successful projects of the 4H, Mr. Rapsing decided to re-organize the school-based 4H club with the same vision, mission and objectives in 2009? Recognizing the important role of the 4H in the development of the school, the faculty and the school management entrusted the “Gulayan sa Paaralan” project to the 4H club. This is a joint project of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education. The school management deemed it wise to involve the 4H club for its sustainability. They saw the potential of the club in effectively implementing the project. Now, the club has been gaining recognition as outstanding gulayan project in Masbate.

Aside from this, the club is active in community services. They initiated activities in protecting the environment and in reducing malnutrition in the school and in the community. Noteworthy to mention is the domino effect of the project among the club members and their families. They too established their vegetable gardens in their backyard. They are also active in the clean-up drive at the seashore of San Vicente, Puro. They also initiated the tree planting activity in Filminera the designated relocation site in Puro.


One of the awesome sight in the school is the established boxes teeming with vegetables ready for harvest. Aside from this, empty drums, containers were also used to plant vegetables arranged neatly and artistically in the school campus. The project tickled the creative minds not only of the students but the people who saw the projects. They were encouraged to plant their own vegetables the most creative and innovative way in their own homes and backyards.


Part of the income derived from the gulayan was given to the members tending the project and the rest was used to construct a small fishpond as source of tilapia for their feeding project. The feeding project is jointly implemented by the club and the MAPEH teachers of Puro National School. Aside from the social responsibility that the club has shown to the community and the school it also strengthened camaraderie among its members. They say that the pride of producing food for others has encouraged them to produce more. Thus, the club was awarded as Outstanding Vegetable Producer and Best Producer of home-made fertilizer and Insecticide.


Indeed the 4H club of Puro National High School is aptly to be called as the Region’s Outstanding Young Farmer Organization.

Who says farm mechanization is only for men? The women of the Rural Improvement Club (RIC) of Barangay Miluya in Castilla, Sorsogon exemplify women’s capability in rice farming not restricted by gender roles and socio-cultural stereotypes.

Here, women have proven their mettle in doing farm work and managing farms to alleviate their families and community from poverty.

Farm mechanization in Miluya started in January 2012, when through the efforts of the Local Government Unit of Castilla, the DA constructed a flatbed dryer worth P624,500.00 for the RIC, followed by the provision of hand tractor with trailer in November of same year, and the construction of a palay shed and solar dryer in October 2013. The club, headed by its president Mrs. Jenie Matamorosa, hired men to operate said facilities and equipment.  Since then, the management skill of the club was put to test and was honed through time.

Agricultural mechanization has increased the productivity, not only of these women farmers and their families but also of the whole rice farming community through the more efficient use of labor, the timeliness of operations, and reduction in postharvest losses. Since 80% of the 402.10 hectares total  land area of barangay Miluya is devoted to rainfed rice, the availability of farm equipment helped them cope with the brunt of climate change. With a flatbed dryer now available, rice harvest are no spared from rotting even on rainy days.

Record shows that in 2012, rice farmers in Sorsogon harvested an average yield  of 3.60 cavans per hectare. Now, with the aid of machineries, the average yield in rice farms of Sorsogon is 3.72 cavans per hectare registering a growth rate of 3.29%.

Even farmers who are not members of RICOM benefit from these farm equipment. At the onset of the cropping seasons in June and October about twenty (20) non-members use the handtractors. During harvest season in September to November last year, 17 non-members availed of the flat bed dryer services, and 43 non-members used the RICOM solar dryer.

Mechanization not only made their farm works a lot easier, it also gave the RIC additional income.  For the flatbed dryer operation they charge P25/sack., generating a net income of P13,050 in 2012 and P25,265 in 2013. For every P2,500 income earned from drying 100 sacks of palay, P500 goes to diesel expenses, P1,000 goes to the dryer operator who also hires another 2 laborers to do the manual mixing, and the remaining P1,000 goes the club’s coffer.    The peak months of drying operation are September to December. Meanwhile, from the hand tractor rental which charges P140.00/hectare, the association generated an income of P2,780 in 2012 and P20,935 in 2013.  

The husbands of the RIC members were also beneficiaries of the Community Seed Banking of the Department of Agriculture. Through the CSB, they were able to plant high yielding upland rice varieties for two croppings annually and get an average of 120-135 cavans per hectare.

Impressed with the management skills of the RIC, the LGU has again chosen the RIC to be the recipient of the P3.4M Farm Level Grains Center of the Department of Agriculture Regional Office under its Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (formerly Bottom Up Budgeting). The RICOM was chosen by the LGU out of the 15 existing farmers organizations in Castilla, because of its sterling track record, tangible accomplishments and contribution to the community. With the establishment of this rice processing complex, the RICOM will serve as the buying station of all the palay produced in their barangay.

Early Beginnings of RICOM

The RIC of Miluya was organized in 2009 through the help of Alice Jamoralin of Sorsogon Provincial Agriculture office  and registered with the DOLE in 2010. It  started with P5,000 starting capital. Now,  the club has P1,419,349.00 assets, 42 active members and numerous community projects worthy of recognition.

The women of RICOM are mostly high school graduates and some did not even reach secondary education, but they strived to study their craft – rice farming and organic agriculture. They believe that to be effective women leaders in the community, they must  be equipped with the necessary, knowledge, technologies and skills. Thus, all the members do not hesitate to attend trainings and seminars extended to them particularly by the TESDA whose office is located in the nearby barangay of Mayon.   

These trainings helped them start their own income generating projects. Fifteen (15) members are engaged in vermi composting, soap making (4), rag making (6), swine raising (8), poultry raising (1), sari-sari store (7), and vegetable production (16 members), all being financed by the organization through re-lending.

 

Organic Agriculture is their advocacy 

In 2009, the club was chosen by Intervida Phils. Foundation to manage its newly constructed 250 square meter vermi composting facility for barangay Miluya. As caretakers of the facility, they were required to attend various trainings on organic agriculture. Aware of the long term benefits of organic farming and its potential as an enterprise, most of the members also put up their own vermi composting pit at home.

Their vermi-culture project gave them an income of P20,200 in 2012 and P17,900 in 2013. The vermicast they produce are sold to Intervida, Sorsogon National Agricultural School (SNAS) and interested rice farmers at P50.00 per 10 kilos.   

The club also maintains a (one) 1 hectare communal garden for organic vegetables  which gave them a net income of P23,390 in 2012 and P11,960 in 2013. Through this project, they were able to provide safe, nutritious and fresh vegetables for their families and the community.  Like any other organizations, the RICOM is also lending money to the members. In 2012 it generated an income of P8,600 and in 2013 P16,100 from loan interest of 5% per month.

From all their farming enterprise, the RICOM generated a total of P42,550.00 net income in 2011, P 73,770.00 in 2012, and P116,634.00 in 2013.

 

 

Linkages/Social DevelopmenThe women were also active in civic and religious activities in the barangay. They do the feeding of 50 daycare children during schooldays. The feeding is funded by the LGU and DSWD at P13/child/day for lunch. They also lead the tree planting, cleaning and beautification of the barangay every month. Three (3) members of the club serve as catechists in the elementary school, and some members organized the choir for the parish. 

The RICOM was also instrumental in the organization of the Miluya 4-H Club and is assisting them in project proposal preparation.

Another significant project of the RICOM is the establishment of the Material Recovery Facility at Purok 1 where they led the segregation of waste materials in compliance with AO 39.  During barangay assembly, Barangay Captain Marticio, together with some RICOM members, discuss topics on solid waste management and vermi composting to approximately 150 constituents who usually attend the assembly. 

The group also ventured in fund raising activities such as Bingo Socials during fiestas and other holidays, and do caroling in December. The proceeds from these activities were used to buy small home appliances which were given as raffle prizes to RIC members during Christmas get together and some were used to buy groceries that were given to 30 indigent families last Christmas (2013).   The club also distributes net surplus, allocates funds for education and training, and provides incentives such as dividends.

One major factor to the success of the club is that the Barangay Captain of Miluya is also a very active member of the club.   

This group of empowered women contributes significantly to our food security. Their courage, generosity and selfless bid to uplift the living condition of the farm families in the rural areas are worth recognizing and emulating.

Flor Olivar is a model farmer who epitomizes the present coconut farmer, who  strives to be ecologically friendly, efficient, productive and profitable agri‐entrepreneur  and at the same time leader of the community.

    Flor hails from Vinzons, Camarines Norte married to the former Irene Jalina and is blessed with an only son. He finished Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education at  Camarines Norte State College of Agriculture, Labo, Camarines Norte. 

  Flor obtained his initial coconut planting materials from PCA’s Camarines Norte  seedling nurseries. His average production is 96 nuts per tree per year, way above the  regional norm of 34.79 nuts per year. His harvests from these coconut range from a low  of seven hundred and a high of 1,300 nuts per harvest. The distance of planting of these  coconuts is on average eight (8) meters.   

He applies organic fertilizers using farm wastes, such as the shredded coconut  husks, vegetable trimmings and cut weeds. He also utilizes the fertilizer or salt from  PCA.    Flor’s primary product is whole nuts. Unlike copra whole nuts entail less labor  cost and commands higher price in the local market. The husks are used as mulching  material and organic fertilizer. He also has seventy five (75) newly planted hybrid  coconut in his farm and its variety is the so‐called “Mindoro Dwarf”.   

Flor’s coconuts are also relatively unscathed by pests and diseases. He maintains  general sanitation and maintenance in his farm by removing dry fronds of coconuts,  pruning, weeding, regular cleaning of ditches, drainage and irrigation canal, composting  and use of organic pesticides.   

An integral part of Flor’s farm is his intercrops like rambutan. He also planted  vegetables  and  other  cash  crops  such  as  sweet  corn,  watermelon,  eggplant  and  ampalaya.    

In 2012 and 2013, he harvested 2,000 and 2,500 kgs. Luscious rambutan from  these trees, respectively. He has harvested 2,240 kgs. of banana of various varieties in  2013. Flor harvested 1,050 kgs. Ampalaya in 2013. He has also produced 375 kgs. of  pepper in a 500 sq. m. and 1,080 kgs. Pechay in 1,000 sq. m. garden both in 2013.   

In a 1.0 hectare portion, he had planted watermelon and harvested 12,000 kgs.  watermelon in 2013. In the same area, he planted sweet corn in 2013 and produced  40,000 corn cobs. Flor has also rows of 100 Red Lady papaya trees in another 1,000 sq.  m. land. He has also at present seedlings of the Dragon fruit he plans to plant around his  farm.   

Likewise, Flor has a 350 sq. m. tilapia pond and in 2013 harvested 112 kgs. live  tilapia, some of it he sold to the local market. Flor Olivar maintains a number of ducks  and chicken. He has 30 native chickens, 10 sasso and 23 heads of ducks. He has 3 goats,  4 pigs, 3 cattle and 2 carabao. 

  Flor is a socially conscious and responsible coconut farmer actively involved in  the community. He was conferred the Achievement Award and Special Award by the  Regional Agricultural and Fishery Council (RAFC 5) in 2010 and 2011, respectively.   

He was trained in Japan as an Exchange Student in Agriculture and in the process  become  also  trainor  for  Japan  Agricultural  Exchange  Alumni  Association  of  the  Philippines. He had also attended various trainings, seminars and conferences. He was  also a recipient of Awards of Recognition and Appreciation by various institutions. He is  at present Brgy. Kagawad of Calabagas, San Vicente, Camarines Norte. He is also active  in religious affairs. He is appointed as Extra Ordinary Minister of the Holy Communion by  the Roman Catholic Bishop of Daet.   

Most importantly, Flor as a committed leader, unselfishly imparts to students,  residents  of  the  community  and  the  farmers  his  treasured  knowledge.  Truly  an outstanding farmer leader.

Farming is a profitable enterprise and the love and passion for it is acquired and learned through the years. For the MAGSINO family, their passion for agriculture started years back from their parents. The couple Adel and Mario grew up from a farming family. Adel’s mother manage their coconut and rice farm while her father is a government employee. Mario’s parents also rely on the income of their farm in Batangas.


Adel a registered midwife, worked with the provincial government of Camarines Sur as nutrition program coordinator for six years. She resigned when she got married in 1983, while her husband Mario worked in Saudi Arabia as asphalt plant supervisor. The pangs of homesickness became unbearable so Mario decided to stay in Goa for good.
Adel borrowed a hectare riceland from her mother, while her husband ventured into buying and selling cattle or as “viajero” to Lemery Batangas. Mario saw the potential of farming, so he planted the vacant spaces in her mother-in-law’s lot with corn and coconut. This is where their luck in agriculture started. With the income from the farm and from their business they were able to buy agricultural land in Abucayan and in Napawon both in Goa, Camarines Sur.
In 1991, the couple started their bakery business and the video/photo studio. With two businesses to manage the couple divided the task of managing the farm. Adel takes charge of the 2.9 hectare farm and Mario the 9 hectare coconut with citrus was managed by Mario.


Adel envisioned to convert their farm into an agri-tourism spot as it is planted with exotic fruit trees like durian and mangosteen, and other fruit trees like rambutan , mangoes, apple, green macopa, pomelo, citrus, banana, papaya, dragon fruit, cacao and pili. She also planted strawberry which was usually grown in the highlands of Benguet and Baguio and grapes. She also planted herbs and spices, vegetables like eggplant, okra, string beans , bell pepper and tomato. The old swimming pool was stocked with pangasius, tilapia, carp and aquarium fishes. They also raise sheep, free range chicken, swine and cow. The breeder sow is part of the package of the Palayamanan project of DA where Adel is a farmer leader and at the same time farmer cooperator. Their farm was also chosen as one of the bud wood garden in Camarines Sur because of the different varieties of cacao planted.


They availed the vermi-composting facility of DA where they were provided with a shredder, vermi tea brewer and the African night crawler worms. Today, they are producing their own vermicast and vermin tea for use in the farm and also other organic fertilizers and foliar fertilizers. Being an advocate of organic farming the Magsinos produce organic brown rice as their main product in the farm. They also produce organic pig, organic chicken and organic fruits. But the farm is in the process of second party certification. Increasing food safety and climate change concerns have encouraged the Magsinos to venture into organic farming. Farm wastes are converted into fertilizer. They also ventured into beekeeping or apiculture. They now have 10 colonies of the stingless bee the Trigona biroi or “kalulot” in their farm.


Adel also attended trainings and seminars to increase her knowledge on organic farming and other technologies most appropriate to their farm. She attended over 25 trainings, conducted over twenty (20) right at their farm. These trainings greatly influenced the farmers and rural women in Napawon and Abucayan because 28 farmers are now adopting organic rice farming; 15 rural women are now venturing in pili oil processing; 25 are engaged in the production of organic foliar fertilizer; three are engaged in fermented cacao chocolate making and rice wine making. Mario on the otherhand, made some innovations on their cacao fermentation box using softdrinks cooler. He also made a mechanical dryer for cacao beans using UV plastic and bamboo slats. With her experience in the farm and with the various trainings and exposure trips she attended Adel is now sought after as speaker/resource person by DA and ATI. Adel is also active in various organizations namely: Napawon Rural Improvement Club where she is the president; federation president of the RIC in Goa; President of Abucayan Farmers Association for Sustainable Agriculture (AFASA); HVCDP farmer scientist of Goa showcasing the different high value crops and technologies in her farm; Board of Director Goa Organic Agriculture Producers and Processors Organization (GOAPPO); President of Goa Vegetable Growers Association and member of the Magsasakang Sustenableng Agrikultura sa Digdigon (MASADIGDI) a MASIPAG-NGO recognized farmer-led people’s organization. Mario on the otherhand is a member of Abucayan Farmers Association for Sustainable Agriculture (AFASA). As president of the RIC she initiated the availment of hand tractor and other pili processing equipment for the club which is now part of their IGP.

Angelie’s farm is a source of pride and fulfillment for the Magsinos. It is also a techno demo farm on organic farming practices of different crops. It is a learning farm for students and visitors and at the same time a venue for trainings and seminars for farmers, youth and rural women. It is known as one of the farms frequented by visitors from other parts of the country . Their recent visitor was the team of experts on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification.


The Magsinos are also active in all community activities. They also teach rural women on value adding projects, cooking healthy food and taking care of their children. Her husband Mario initiated activities like Operation Linis and Rabus in their barangay. Their children help prepare food and other materials for the different community activities. Their daughter Maireadel Ann is a graduate of BS Computer Science at St. Paul College and she is also a registered nurse. While their son Marvin Eric is also a graduate of computer technology at Naga College. Despite finishing their courses they still love to stay and work in the farm. Their son whose hobby is raising pet animals is now earning from the sale of puppies, kit (young of rabbit), aquarium fishes and kitten. They are also involved in processing, packaging and marketing their farm produce. The Magsinos were also involved in the Agri-GAD Nutri Project specifically on its feeding project for malnourished children in Goa. With their success in farming Adel was awarded 2012 Outstanding rural woman at the regional level and 2nd place at the national level. The Magsinos was also awarded TOFARM Outstanding Farm Family (golden awards) in 2013 by the Philippine Junior Jaycees. Asked how they manage to cope up with the different activities in the farm, in the community and most importantly in the family, they would simply reply “Just do something you love, enjoy it and you will never work another day in your life….farming for us is both a lifestyle and a profession…. choose well and let your passion come through.

Life is never without ups and downs, triumphs and tears, joys and sorrows. It can be compared to a spinning wheel. This is Alfredo Gatongay’s story. He is a farmer from Quezon who has to endure misfortunes because of his conviction and principles. A graduate of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture major in Agronomy in Valencia City, Bukidnon, he worked as farm technician supervisor at Universal Investment Corporation Farm in San Andres, Quezon where he supervised about 900 hectares coconut, corn and rice from 1982 to 1987.

Then he became Assistant Farm Manager of Superior Agro Industrial Incorporated from 1987-1995. He managed the 540 hectare coconut plantation and the 500 heads of cattle. It was during his time as manager when the farm was evaluated by DAR and identified as part of the Agro Industrial zone. After the issuance of the exemption the owner dismissed the workers including Mang Alfredo. From 1997 to 2008 he was hired as farm manager of a poultry farm in Pagsangahan, San Francisco. He became a farmer leader and initiated the petition to distribute the 540 hectares of Superior Agro Incorporated to the tenants. After ten years of legal battle, the Supreme Court ordered to distribute the said land to the tenants. But, the story did not end there, Mang Alfredo was charged of stealing table and chicken feed rack which he said he is not guilty but was put to jail in 2009. This was the darkest hour of his life because when he was incarcerated his two children died one after the other of bone cancer and kidney tumor.

He stayed in Bilibid Prison for two years and while inside he kept himself busy by initiating the planting of seedlings like acacia, narra, and mahogany. He met former Batangas Governor Jose Antonio Leviste and because of his expertise they launched the One billion tree program for the protection and conservation of the forests and to mitigate climate change. This was featured in the Agriculture Magazine in August 2010. He gained the confidence and friendship of the inmates and taught them how to plant and take care of the seedlings and served as resource speaker to students and visitors. Because of his exemplary performance inside the jail he obtained presidential clemency in 2011.

Mang Alfredo considers everything as a challenge. He said that the more you can leverage challenges as opportunities to grow and evolve the more resilient you are. They were able to find a niche in Naga City. The Naga View Adventist College allowed him to lease five hectares of land for corn and 3 hectares for vegetable, ube and sweet corn inside the campus at Zone 4 Panicuason, Naga City.

Corn farmers in Naga City which is part of the corn cluster in Camarines Sur plant corn from May to June then October to November. He started planting hybrid corn in 2011 in the 5 hectare land. He practiced mechanized farming to facilitate land preparation and to cope up with the sudden change of weather. He rents the 4-WD tractor at Ps 1,400 per hour owned by the NVAC.

Using quality seeds is a good start in corn production and is very important according to Mang Alfredo. The high yield of corn lies on the quality and resistance to pest of the seeds used. He makes sure that he buys seeds from known and accredited seed dealers.

Before the last harrowing Mang Alfredo applies 30 bags decomposed chicken manure. Applying chicken manure reduced his usage of inorganic fertilizer. Mang Alfredo owns a soil testing kit and knows how to use it. The fertilizer he applied in his farm is based on the result of the STK. Crop residues like corn stovers, hay, weeds are plowed under during land preparation. Planting is still done manually to help generate jobs for students in NVAC. They are paid Ps 20 per hour for planting. Aside from the students women in the neighborhood were involved in planting and weeding. They follow the 20-25 cm distance of planting one seed per hill. Mang Alfredo does not apply insecticide instead he regularly monitors his field and practices Agro Eco Sytem Analysis or AESA as his basis in decision making. He also uses tricho cards and earwigs supplied by the DA to control corn borer.

Harvesting is done manually when the corn ears reached full maturity. He also disclosed that while the corn is still in the field labourers separate damaged corn while harvesting. Another group sort the harvested corn near the shelling area. He also installed a corn crib where he stock corn for shelling to minimize molds and damage. Mang Alfredo recorded an average yield of 8.5 metric tons per hectare dried with 14% moisture content during wet season and 10.3 metric tons per hectare dried with 14% MC. To facilitate shelling he uses the mechanical corn sheller. The running rate for shelling is Ps 10 per sack. Mang Alfredo delivers shelled corn to nearby comprada . It is being dried for 12 to 18 hours in the mechanical dryer. He sells the dried corn to the owner of the dryer who is also the comprador.

Out of his income in the farm he was able to buy a residential lot and a farm lot where his wife established a mini grocery. He was also able to improve their house and bought a carabao as draft animal. All these he acquired from corn production alone. Aside from corn, Mang Alfredo plants vegetables, sweet corn and ube for added income. In addition, a two hectare lot in NVAC was also utilized as techno demo farm showcasing the conventional hybrid corn production. With his enthusiasm and innovativeness Mang Alfredo is optimistic that he could sustain the yield and quality of his corn given the good weather and the right technologies. Producing more and introducing new technologies is his way of paying back the many blessings he received. With the arrows of misfortune, he became a better person. That is why he focused on the students of NVAC because he wants to help and provide deserving students an opportunity to finish school and be part of their success.