SAN JOSE, MALILIPOT, ALBAY—“Iyo, kaya mi (Yes, we can)!”

This was the response of the 60 farmer-participants from barangays Calbayog and San Roque in Malilipot and Sta. Misericordia in Sto. Domingo when asked if they are willing to implement the Technology in Vegetable Production in Protective Culture in the identified sites of their local government units for three months.

The Department of Agriculture-Bicol conducted the sixth in a series of trainings on Vegetable Production In Protective Culture and Distribution of Agri-Inputs to Farmers affected by Mayon Volcano Eruption on February 12, 2018 here.

Sto. Domingo Officer-in-Charge of the Municipal Agriculturist Office Larry B. Balilo said that the site for the affected farmers in their locality will be in Purok 7 of Sta. Misericordia. They will start the land preparation on February 22, 2018.

Malilipot Agricultural Technician Priscilla Landingin said that the tunnel-type greenhouses of the affected farmers in the municipality will be in Sitio Datag, of this town. They will start the land preparation on February 23, 2018.

Harbest Agribusiness Corporation’s (HAC) Field Agriculturist and speaker Conrado C. Calderon assured the farmers that he will personally assist them during their preparation of the plots.

These farmers evacuated their farms and residences on January 13, 2018 when PhiVolcs declared that Mayon Volcano was placed on Alert Level 2.

However, they would still take the risk of going back to their farms despite the warnings from the local government even if Mayon Volcano was placed on Alert Level 4.

“Dai man po kaya kami apektado kan abo dawa nasa 6km-danger zone asin sayang kan samong puhunan sa paggulay (We were not affected by ashfall although we belong to the 6-km-danger zone. Besides, I will lose a lot of my investment in vegetable production), related 56-year-old farmer from Calbayog Leona Bo who farms more than 10 hectares of cassava, coconut, tomatoes, pechay, camote and Abaca.

She estimated a loss of Php35,000.00 pesos in her investment in the farm.

Same case with 43-year-old farmer Maritess Manilag of Sta. Misericordia. She and her husband would still check on the crops because if she will just leave her papaya, cassava, string beans, pechay, tomatoes and eggplants, she will lose Php20,000.00 from their investments.

But for 56-year-old farmer Albino Borras, he’d rather let go of Php30,000.00-worth of labor, fertilizer, land preparation and other farm inputs than risk his life.

“Mas dakul pa ang makukua ko kun buhay ako kesa kun gadan na ako (I stand to gain more if I am alive than if I am dead), Borras said.

All three farmers were thankful to the Department of Agriculture, the local government and the provincial government that they were enlisted to be part of the Training on Vegetable Production in Protective Culture. Moreso they will receive polyethylene UV-treated plastic films; 100m of plastic mulch; two bags Durabloom; one unit of sprinkler and 100 pieces of bamboo stick to start the establishment of tunnel-type greenhouses. The vegetable seeds were already distributed through their respective LGUs by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Pinol last January 29, 2018 in Guinobatan, Albay.

According to Agriculturist Ronald Coprada of the DA-High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP), after the decampment of the evacuees, the farmers can dismantle their eight greenhouses in the temporary farm lot and can be established in their respective farms.

The remaining 170 affected farmers from Polangui, Legazpi City, Tabaco City, and Oas will have their training and farm inputs on February 13-21, 2018. (jaysonmgonzales)