LIGAO CITY, ALBAY – Over a year after the Mayon eruption spewed widespread ashes over all kinds of vegetation in this city, particularly in barangay Amtic, the farmers are now fully recovered and are going big time. The temperate climate favoring planting of fruits and vegetables helped the farmers here.

Noel Buenavente, 38 years old of Barangay Amtic is one of the many farmers being supported by the City Local Government Unit of Ligao, particularly the City Agriculture Office headed by City Agriculturist Dexter Mendoza with the strong support of the Department of Agriculture RFO 5 High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP).

He was also one of the 500 farmers who attended the training on Protective Culture for Vegetable Production for the farmers who have been affected by Mayon eruption in February 2018 conducted by the DA 5 HVCDP. The training was DA’s quick response during the eruption. After the training, Noel received vegetable seeds, organic fertilizer, garden tools, UV plastic, plastic mulch, and bamboo sticks. These inputs helped him rebuild his 1.2 hectare farm.

Noel was also one of the top graduates of the 3-month long Farmers Field School (FFS) on Vegetable Production. He employed his knowledge and skills in developing his farm which is the bread and butter for his family.

He maximized the use of the land through relay cropping where a new crop is planted under a standing crop so that when the first crop has been harvested, the intercrop will take its turn to be productive. He also practices mulching, a technology he learned from the protective culture training, that’s why his crops were not affected by the recent El Niño.

As an innovation in his farm, he devised a rain collector attached to the rain shelter which was also provided by the HVCDP. He left a one foot portion hanging along both sides of the plastic roof of the rainshelter and folded them upwards forming a downspout that serves as water collection channel directing the rain water towards a hole in the ground which was covered with laminated sack.

In 2018, he harvested approximately 5,000 kilos of squash which were delivered to wholesalers in Manila at P25.00/kilo. He also harvested 1,000 kilos of snap beans which he sold at P50.00/kilo; 5,000 kilos tomatoes were sold at P20.00/kilo; and 90 kilos sili haba sold at P30.00/kilo. Harvesting for other crops like tomato was done everyday and lasted up to 10-15 harvests. For ampalaya, he harvested 15 times at 300 kilos per harvest which were sold at P30.00/kilo. The 100 kilos papaya were sold at P15.00/kilo. He also maintains 800 cacao trees and 50 pili trees which he obtained from the LGU of Ligao City.

While 86% of the Filipinos households do not have a bank account because they do not have enough cash to spare for keeping (according to Central Bank), Noel has kept a decent savings at a bank in Ligao City. He was also able to send his children to school and improve their abode.

Indeed, Noel is one proof of the Bicolano’s resiliency and courage to rise above the challenges in their lives. (Lovella P. Guarin / photos by Hermito Privaldos)