Cabangan, Camalig, Albay—“Effort namin along with my ABS staff to sustain food productivity for us and Cabangan folks by producing vegetables and rootcrops,” shared station chief Dr. Elsa Maranan of the Albay Breeding Station (ABS) here.

“And we use the chicken dung, sludge and slurry materials from the Biogas Plant as our organic fertilizer,” she added.

“We make sure that the crops like tomatoes, eggplants, sweet potatoes, upland kangkong, corn, cassava, stringbeans and silk squash (patola) are organically grown.”

Dried chicken manure has a very high nitrogen content and a good amount of potassium and phosphorus.

Biogas sludge has organic compounds which can be easily absorbed by the roots of the plants. It has nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium and Carbon.

Biogas slurry is rich in macro and micro nutrients that provide essential plant nutrients for longer period. It provides huge nutrient potential for vegetative and reproductive growth of field crops.

Since these materials are available in the station, she decided to use it as organic fertilizer. She believed that organic farming is a strategy for sustainable agriculture and for health and wellness of farmers and consumers.

Instead of growing ornamentals plants along the side of the perimeter fences of ABS, they planted vegetables.

Moreover, the corn, cassava, sweet potato and sorghum plants in the station for animal feeds were grown with same organic fertilizers. Thus, livestock animals and the people of ABS are enjoying healthy and safe food.

This initiative of ABS is in line with the call of Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar to provide adequate, accessible and affordable food for every Filipino family through the Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat or ALPAS COVID-19, otherwise called the Plant, Plant, Plant program.

Maranan also said that some residents of barangay Cabangan would ask for vegetables and even vegetable seeds from their station especially when Luzon was placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine. They adopted the idea to plant vegetables in their fences or idle spaces instead of ornamentals.

Malunggay leaves are the most requested vegetable from the station by residents of Cabangan. These they use as food and feeds for livestock. This prompted Maranan to give them cuttings so they can grow their own malunggay plant.

Maranan disclosed that  amid the implementation of  ECQ, a number of residents already received their vegetable seeds from the DA-High Value Crops Development Program through Dr. Mae Rodriguez. Atotal of 1,695 packs of vegetables seeds (upland kang kong, pechay, sitao, tomatoes and eggplant) were distributed to barangays Sumlang, Cabangan, and Salugan.

Asked if what are the advantages of growing one’s own vegetables, Maranan cited that it is healthier, better for the environment, good for the health, money saver, a form of exercise and a natural stress reliever.

She also disclosed two types of mixtures of the organic materials—50kgs of garden soil mixed with 25 kgs of sludge or chicken dung. The mixture was used in the beddings before transplanting the seedlings. Or, 1kg of garden soil, 1kg of sludge, and 1kg of carbonized rice hull mixture.

For plots, Maranan said that they applied basal greens fertilizer.

She added that on the first harvest of sweet potatoes, she felt a certain kind of happiness when they distributed the root crops to their neighbors and ABS staff families.

“Our vegetables, whether large or small, can help a family get nourished for the day,” she said.

 At this time, the organic tomatoes are ready for harvesting and sharing. (jaysonmgonzales with photos from Dr. Elsa Maranan and Quincy Ayo)

The organic vegetables planted along the perimeter fence.

ABS staff tending the field of sweet potatoes and tomatoes.

Dr. Elsa Maranan checks on the tomatoes.

Dr. Elsa Maranan checks on her upland kangkong.

Dr. Elsa Maranan checks on her corn plants and sorghum for the livestock animals at the station.