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Davao Norte town engages in organic rice farming 

ASUNCION, DAVAO DEL NORTE - The rice farmers here strengthened the goal of rice self-sufficiency in Davao region as most of them converted into organic rice farming.

In 2013, the town was granted a P2 million worth of special project dubbed as Organic Rice Production Enhancement Program (ORPEP) by the Department of Agriculture (DA) 11 under the Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP).

The ORPEP was being facilitated by an income generating project of the local government unit (LGU) named Agri Business Enterprise Farmers Assistance Program (ABE-FAP) where they identified 140 farmers from the 11 barangays of Asuncion as farmer-beneficiaries.

The selected farmer-beneficiaries who hardly support their farm inputs availed themselves of the loan worth P 18,000 good for one hectare from ABE-FAP. 

The project aims to gradually convert conventional rice farmers to organic farmers within a period of three years where they will be prohibited to use insecticide.

Danilo Bulahan, an ORPEP beneficiary who owns a two hectare farmland said that he found himself in a huge debt when they had to borrow money for the cost of synthetic methods like inorganic fertilizers.

“When I was still using synthetic fertilizers, it would cost me P 20, 000- P25, 000 per hectare and it lowers down to P 10,000-P 11,000 when I engaged in organic farming”, Bulahan said.

From his growing income, he already acquired five carabaos, two turtle type tractors, kuliglig farm tractors and thresher.

“Because of the success of using organic rice farming, I am now constructing our new house worth P1 million,” Bulahan added.

Meanwhile, Mayor Joseph Nilo Fareñas said that a 100 percent increase in yield was noted in their office in terms of the farming status in their town.

“The project brought economic and environmental benefits in the town. Now that most rice farmers are engaged in organic farming, declining amount of toxins go to rivers and lands which are harmful to residents, unlike before when farmers cultivate their fields using conventional methods with plenty of fertilizers and pesticides that had consequences”, Fareñas added.

Currently, a total of 130 hectares of the farming lands in Asuncion are already organic rice farms and ABE-FAP continues to provide financing and marketing assistance to rice farmers in the municipality since farmers who have paid their loan in full have the opportunity to avail the program in the succeeding cropping season.

In a record from the DA 11, a total of P57 million through GPBP was allocated in the province and P25.7 million of which was already utilized. 

The remaining P31.3 million is set to be turned over to the different local government units of the province after the enabling documents were approved.

Twenty-three out of the 55 projects were already implemented and turned over. 

On the other hand, DA 11’s hope also is growing that more farmers will avail of the program and its long term benefits that would able them to escape from the debt trap.

Agriculture Regional Director Remelyn Recoter said that the department continues to provide assistance to the farmers.

She added that the GPBP program is pushing farm mechanization for the farmers and beneficiaries to become self-sufficient and competitive.

“I hope you will take good care of the project. You are lucky to receive an assistance such as this,” Recoter said.  (Lucille Bocado/DA-11)