Tuesday, July 21, 2009
UP study shows benefits of organic-rice production.
An organic rice-production experiment administered in Baao, Camarines Norte, and Alaminos City, Pangasinan, shows positive signs that sustainable organic practice is feasible and will benefit small farmers, Go Organic! Philippines said in a statement.
Lawyer Efren Moncupa, lead convenor of Go Organic! Philippines, said the study, performed by experts from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), boosts the government’s go-organic program to convince farmers to veer away from the excessive use of harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
“This means that the Philippines is on the right track in promoting organic farming,” Moncupa, a former agrarian-reform undersecretary, said.
A consortium of nongovernment organizations led by the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement and La Liga Policy Institute, Go Organic! Philippines is aggressively promoting organic farming and is behind the successful implementation of the Organic FIELDS Support Program, under which 600 farmers were trained with various organic-farming systems and technologies in six towns in Luzon, namely, Baao, Camarines Norte; Tabaco, Albay; Naujan, Oriental Mindoro; Guimba, Nueva Ecija; Samal and Dinalupihan, Bataan; and Alaminos City, Pangasinan.
The first phase of the program, which was launched in November last year, officially ended in April. Phase 2 of the P20-million project is currently in the pipeline.
“All we need to do is to pursue existing programs that promote organic farming,” said Roland Cabigas, managing director of LLPI and a convenor of Go Organic! Philippines.
The study aims to compare the agronomic, economic and yield responses of the system of rice intensification (SRI), farmers’ practice (FP) and balanced fertilization system (BFS) in Baao, Camarines Sur, and Alaminos City, Pangasinan.
The research team, headed by Oscar Zamora, dean of the UPLB graduate school and a professor of the UPLB College of Agriculture, came up with an economic analysis which revealed that organic farming is more feasible and profitable when farmers produce their own organic fertilizers and botanical sprays.
The research was conducted in barangays Tangcarang and Palamis in Alaminos City, Pangasinan, and in barangays Sagrada and Salvacion in Baao, Camarines Sur, in collaboration with the local governments of Alaminos City and the municipality of Baao, and the Camarines Sur State Agricultural College during the dry season from November 2008 to April 2009. The experiment sought to quantify the performance of SRI, FP and BFS and determine the more sustainable rice-production system in two selected provinces. Except for barangay Tangcarang, where the experiment was set up in a techno-demo farm, all the three other sites were farmers’ fields.
According to the study, rice production in Baao resulted in a higher number of tillers, percent productive tillers, panicle length, filled grains, 1,000 seed weight, and grain yield with lower costs of production and high return on investment.
The study revealed that rice-yield potential across treatments is higher in Baao than in Alaminos City, because water was not limiting and temperature was lower during the cropping season in Baao than in Alaminos City, the report explained.
Under the conditions in both sites during the experiment, the potential of SRI is higher in Baao than in Alaminos City.
“This indicates that the potential of SRI can be better expressed in areas where water is not a limiting factor and when temperature is low,” the study concluded.
Zamora said the study results are not yet conclusive since the experiment was only done for one season. “The benefits of using organic fertilizer in terms of improving soil characteristics and consequently increasing yield are usually not quantifiable in the first season,” he said.
He suggested that future research-and-development activities of similar nature should be done in actual farmers’ fields to better reflect the realities of actual rice farming.
According to Moncupa, farmers and consumers will benefit greatly in going organic in terms of income, health and environmental protection.
Organic farming makes use of organic fertilizers and pesticides which the farmers themselves can produce from raw materials that can be found in their farms such as rice straw, rice hull and animal manure.
By Business Mirror
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