Director U-Nichols Manalo (2nd from left), Department of Agriculture Field Operations Services with Chiara Cruza (4th from left) of Ayala Foundation; Marieta Alvis (far right) DA-MIMAROPA Institutional Development Unit Focal Person and Raymond Edica, DA’s Farm Technician (far left) visit the farm of Orlando Laruan in Bgy. Pasadena, El Nido, Palawan which is under preparation for planting.
After the signing of the tripartite memorandum of agreement for the Corporate Rice Farming Program (CRFP) by the Ten Knots Development Corp., Ayala Multi-purpose Cooperative, and Palawan ARC Cooperative Federation, the Ayala Group expressed their interest in the high-value crops of El Nido, Palawan.
With the market which is readily available for the vegetable farmers, the Department of Agriculture did not hesitate to decline the offer.
On January 23, Department of Agriculture and Ayala Foundation partnered to visit the vegetable farmers in El Nido and invited them to attend training about vegetable production. This is to prepare the Federation of Vegetable Growers Association of the municipality for a possible partnership with the Ayala Group.
The visit was led by Director U-Nichols Manalo of the DA’s Field Operations Services, Marietta Alvis of DA-MIMAROPA and Chiara Cruza of the Ayala Foundation
Director Manalo interviewed some of the farm owners to know how they operate their farms for the formulation of more programs to improve productivity and quality of production.
According to Bgy. Councilor Rogelio Rivera of Bgy. Pasadena, who owns a vegetable farm, he is having difficulty in hiring farm workers. Most farmers in the area choose to work in the construction than till their land because of a better income. It has been the Department’s greatest challenge in El Nido to bring back the locales to farming because of the rise of tourism and business establishments in the municipality. Nonetheless, DA sees the rise of tourism as an advantage for the farmers because it results to higher demand for food which is equivalent to additional livelihood and income for farmers.
Bgy. Councilor Rogelio (first from left) Rivera of Bgy. Pasadena, El Nido shares the challenges of vegetable farming in El Nido to (from left to right) Mr. Hilario Villareal, Municipal Farm Technician; Dir. Manalo; and Ms. Alvis on January 23.
DA addresses this issue by strengthening its farmers’ cooperative through its flagship program which is the CRFP where local farm cooperatives are engaged with institutional buyers.
It was timely when the Ayala Group met with Secretary Emmanuel Pinol and Atty. Francicsco Villano, Jr. in February last year to offer help to the agricultural sector.
The CRFP has already been kicked off last year in Iloilo and Palawan, and now, they are exploring another partnership for vegetable supplies.
The Ayala Group said their resorts in El Nido are in need of 200 kilos of pinakbet vegetables (squash, okra, string beans, eggplant, and bitter gourd) per week.
Technical briefing in El Nido
Generosa Onde, Agriculturist I of Department of Agriculture-MIMAROPA explains how to make a vegetable plot to the Federation of Vegetable Grower Association at the Legislative Office of the Municipal Government of El Nido, Palawan on January 24.
About 50 farmers attended the technical briefing on vegetable farming where they learned about the new technology and techniques in vegetable production.
The training was facilitated by Generoso Onde, an organic agriculture expert, and she was assisted by Monica Onde, Agriculturist I and Raymond Edica, Farm Technician of DA’s Palawan Agriculture Center in Puerto Princesa City. The group advocated for organic farming to the farmers to make sure their agricultural produce will be safer and healthier to eat.
Municipal Agriculturist Virginia Balderas showed support for the activity and welcomed the guests and attendees. In her message, she tackled some of the issues such as the high prices of food because of the low supply of vegetables and she also encouraged farmers not to lose hope in vegetable farming.
“Nagbabago na ang panahon, kailangan na natin pagtuunan ang mga lupa natin. Mataas na ang bentahan ng gulay dahil marami ang nangangailangan, siguardong mabubuhay na tayo sa paggugulayan,” she said.
Also present in the activity were the High-Value Crop Development Program represented by its Provincial Coordinator Maricar Tuliao- Combalicer and the Institutional Development Unit Focal Person Marieta Alvis to also administrate in the said program.
Tuliao explained the HVCDP trust and mandate to the farmers and assured its assistance to the vegetable farmers.
While Alvis explained to them what are the things that should be done to make the partnership with Ayala successful and she also assured Agricultural Credit Policy Council's assistance for their production loan.
The Ayala Group through Ms. Cruza sent their gratitude to the farmers and the Department for heeding their call.
“Natututuwa po kami dahil nakikita namin ang pakikipagtulungan ng DA, ng provincial, municipal government , at ng Federation. Pinaka-importante po sa amin ang Federation,” she said.
She also shared that there are offers from other provinces to supply the company’s needed vegetables, but they insisted on prioritizing the Federation of Vegetable Growers Association in El Nido because this is the area where they do their business.
The President of the Federation, Mr. Bobby Belinario also expressed his insights for the project. He said that they must be more persistent on their farm for this would greatly benefit them with a certain market on hand.
“Ang bumabagsak sa mga palengke natin ay galing Roxas, Narra, Puerto Princesa minsan Maynila pa, bakit tayo papayag samantalang ang lupa natin ay nakatiwangwang lamang?,” he asked other farmers.
As the activity comes to a close, the DA-HVCD Program turned over open pollinated variety vegetable seeds to the MAO to be distributed to the farmers. The seeds are 2kilos of string beans, 192 packets of okra, 36 packets of squash, 24 packets tomato, 24 packets eggplant, and 420 packets of bitter gourd. Some garden tools such as rakes, shovels, sprinklers, among others.
Furthermore, the attendees also had hands-on activity with Edica on proper plot-making and installing of plastic mulch and seed planting using a seedling tray.
The attendees learn how to install the plastic mulch on a vegetable plot during their hands on activity with Raymond Eldica, Farm Technician.