Experiential Learning Exposure Trips for CPAR Farmer-Cooperators and Selected Technical Staff conducted

Created on Tuesday, 14 January 2020 Published Date

As part of the implementation of the Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) project in Babatngon, Leyte, an educational tour was held in December 12-13, 2019 for CPAR farmer-cooperators from Brgys. Gov. E. Jaro and Bagong Silang, Babatngon, Leyte, MLGU-Babatngon staff, together with DA – Regional Field Office 8 staff led by Ms. Ma. Rufelie S. Gula, Project Leader.  

Entitled CPAR on the Intensification and Diversification of Rainfed Lowland Rice-based Integrated Farming Systems, the project is aimed at learning and gaining insights and strategies on new, improved farming technologies, not only on rice, but other commodities as well, and to build the farmers’ technical capability on organic and rice production systems through technology exchange with other farmers in the region.

Visited were promising Farmer Learning Sites (FLSs) of ATI 8 and TESDA-accredited schools for farmers.  The activity provided farmers with more knowledge and technical know-how that they may apply in their respective farms and share with fellow farmers.

First stop of the educational tour was Bendicar Farm in Sogod, Southern Leyte, home to a vast organic farm in Southern Leyte.  The brief orientation was conducted by the owner himself, Mr. Bendicar D. Gerona.  He shared the secret of his success in farming – first is God, and the second is his generosity.  His expertise in farming, which he considers a kind of blessing, he continuously shares with his neighboring farmers.  

Adjacent to Bendicar Farm is Caridad Farm owned by Mr. Jun Gerona, the Magsasakang Siyentista (Agricultural Scientist) also of Sogod.  Said farm is already famous for agri–ecofarm tourism in the region.

Another farm visited was the Godoy’s Farm in Baybay City, which primarily advocates sustainable farm practices and organic farming technologies.  The farm is surrounded with various vegetables and herbs planted in recyclable materials, like empty plastic cans and bottles, and old tires, among others. 

The trip proceeded to Heaven’s Peak in Ormoc City.  The 3-hectare area located way above sea level is breathtakingly surrounded with fresh and beautiful kinds of ornamentals, which include 21 edible species.  No more than 200 walk-in visitors a day, including foreigners, frequent the farm.  The farm is community-oriented as it supports vegetable farmers by marketing their produce inside the farm and allowing them to sell cutflowers in their homes.

Last stop was the JEFSPA, or Juanito Eco-Farm School for Practical Agriculture, situated at Brgy. Montebello, Kananga, Leyte, 5 kilometers from the highway.  The owner, Mr. Oligario F. Paredes, Jr., a 2018 Gawad Saka Outstanding Rice Farmer Awardee, welcomed the visitors with a sumptuous, all-organic-products meal.  

It may be a road less travelled, but reaching the area was so rewarding because one is easily mesmerized by nature’s wonderful creation.  The farm is a 5-hectare integrated farm handed down to Mr. Paredes by his late grandfather.  He uses golden kuhol (snail) as his unique ingredient in making fertilizer.  While others consider it as pest, kuhol for him is a jewel because it is rich in protein, which is needed by plants and animals.  

Jun Paredes, as he is fondly called, believes that the success of his integrated organic farm is due to his strong belief in the Almighty.  He constructed a chapel in his farm, so that his employees and farmers in the neighborhood can directly worship God.  According to him, “A farmer who does not know how to pray is not a good farmer.”

The tour was an educational one, especially for the CPAR Farmer-Cooperators.  They gained more knowledge and insights on organic farming.  It is a thing that money cannot buy.  It led them to an awareness that using chemical pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides in their farms would be harmful to the environment.  

According to Mr. Jovenus Ganapin, participant from Brgy. Pagsulhugon, Babatngon, Leyte, he learned how to run and manage his farm and that farming can be a ticket to a better future.  He said, “Upon my return, I will convince my fellow farmers to engage in organic farming.  I will share what I learned from the cross visit. I thank the DA – Regional Field Office 8 that I was chosen to participate in this undertaking and I look forward to more trainings and tours relative to organic farming.  Being exposed to different organic farms exposed me to vegetable and rice production using organic fertilizer-vermi-compost with kuhol.”  He likewise expressed his appreciation for the good effect of organic farming to human health and the environment.  Above all, there is money in organic farming, he quipped.

One salient observation in the visit to the farms is that the owners found their niche of success in agriculture and as recipient of awards by being Magsasakang Siyentista and Gawad Saka Awardee.  They have unique success stories to tell on their humble beginnings.  For as the saying goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

The owners of the farms that were visited have great passion for agriculture.  Probably, becoming well-off and successful have already been etched in the palm of their hands.  Finally, the tour will be much cherished by the farmers long after it was ended.


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