LEADING WOMEN | Merlyn Sanchez Sonajo, of New Santiago, Asuncion, Davao del Norte exemplifies how rural women could help in promoting organic agriculture to reduce production cost and promote sustainable farming.

Eager to learn new technologies, she is an avid listener of "MagUmasenso Ta," DA-XI's radio program and puts into practice the knowledge and information she acquired. This include the use of biological control agents such as Trichogramma, tiny wasps that kills destructive insects on corn and vegetables.

"We started with a makeshift laboratory inside our house just to multiply the biocon agents and apply it in our farm. With this, we were able to produce corn and vegetables sans chemical pesticide application which reduced our production cost," she said adding that she shares the trichogramma cards to her fellow farmers.

Her efforts of promoting organic farming eventually paid off as the municipal government of Asuncion granted her request for a village-type biocon laboratory which was turned over to their community in December last year.

The bio agent produced at the laboratory are distributed free of cost to the farmers and will be made available year round.

Merlyn also devotes part of her time as the Secretary of the Davao Region School-on-the-Air (SOA) Coordinators Farmers Association where she pushed for its accreditation as well as in institutionalization of SOA for technologies and valuable information to reach more farmers in the region.