Why natural farming?
Conventional farming practices make use of pesticides and other chemicals that are harmful to the land, people and environment for this generation and those to come.
In Pulilan, 2014 statistics from the Municipal Health Office show that cardiovascular diseases cause the highest mortality rate. Heart diseases, cancer and diabetes remain the top causes of death among Pulilenos especially among our farmer population who are regularly exposed to considerable amount of chemicals. DOH reported that heart attack, stroke and cancer remain the top causes of death among Filipinos.
Farming has been our livelihood for generations and overtime there has been an increased reliance in using chemically induced fertilizers, antibiotics and pesticides to ensure yield and prevent damage caused by diseases and pests. The high cost of inputs, increasing health risk, degradation of the land and climate change has made the farmers more vulnerable. Today, Filipino farmers are among the poorest sector, agriculture, that comprise 70% of our lands.
To help address these increasing problems, the Municipality of Pulilan Bulacan has implemented its flagship program, Integrated and Sustainable Natural Farming that aims to build awareness and capacity of our farmers towards healthier and more responsible agricultural practices for improved nutrition, increased food production, environment conservation and sustainable livelihoods.
Pulilan LGU during the administration of Mayor Enteng Esguerra and his son, Municipal Administrator, Vic Esguerra Jr. pilot tested the new technology with the first organic farmer in the municipality, Eman Bundoc whose parents and brother died of cancer because of the pesticides used in their farm.
Natural farming ensures soft and fertile soil by using natural materials (i.e. indigenous microorganisms and enzymes) and fermentation processes do on-farm production of inputs and feeds. As a result, growth of plants speed up, nutrition increases, eliminates polluted water, helps digestion of nutrients, increases resistance of plants from diseases and protects form insects and speeds up harvesting.
Since May 2015, the Municipality of Pulilan Bulacan has been implementing its flagship program, Integrated Sustainable Natural Farming, to build awareness and capacity of our farmers towards healthier and more sustainable agricultural practices. Natural Farming methods have been growing over the years and have shown evidence of increased food production, environment conservation and sustainable livelihoods.
Bulacan is the 4th largest province in Central Luzon with 262,500 hectares, of which 36% or 94,000 hectares is devoted to agriculture. Pulilan Bulacan contributes to 2 percent of the province’s total production. (*verify with local source, MAO)
In October 2015, the national government reported the damages in the Province of Bulacan amounting to 5.86 Billion caused by the strongest storm ever to hit the province, Typhoon Lando. The agricultural losses covered rice, corn, high value crops, fisheries and livestock. The palay sector incurred the biggest damage soaring to Php5.12 billion. In Pulilan, 70% of the rice fields were damaged with 1,359 affected families. After 150kph winds, 10 out of 19 barangays of Pulilan, along with Hagonoy, were submerged in in water.
After assessing the extent of damage to the crops, data shows early signs of success with 80% of the total natural farmed rice preserved versus the 29% conventional farmed produce. Amidst the biggest recorded crop damage in Bulacan, this new breed of rice and farming technology has shown resilience during time of disaster and a potential in boosting the agricultural sector in Pulilan and the province.
|ITEM||CONVENTIONAL FARMING||NATURAL FARMING|
|Area Planted||1,953.3 ha||17.7 ha|
|Damaged area||1379.6 ha||3.4 ha|
|7,813 tons||70 tons|
|Total Projected Harvest
(29% of the projected harvest)
(80% of the projected harvest)
Below is the link to the CNN coverage in response to the questions above. Currently we are still putting together the detailed quantitative data comparing conventional and natural farming costs and revenue.
Patricia Ongsiako from CNN reports:
Farmers suffer huge losses after each typhoon. But in a town in Bulacan, farmers have found a way to make their crops disaster-resilient, at a cheaper cost. This report aired on CNN Philippines’ Network News on December 18, 2015.
Strong winds destroy palay crops and heavy rains leave fields swamped with water for days. Farmers are looking for ways to spare their crops from the wrath of typhoons Ceasar Calderon saw his farm damaged however after the water subsided he was surprised to see half of his farm intact. The farmers say its because they started making use of chemical free insect repellant made of fermented fruits and vegetables. Ceasar Calderon, one of the 15 natural farmers shares his experience “malakas yung ulan, doon sa walang halong chemical matatag ang puno niya hindi nabubuwal agad ng hangin o calamidad”.
The 15 farmers saw the other half of their farmers severely hit. Farmers believe that natural farming is more effective in growing crops. This method of farming is part of the LGU efforts to help farmers grow healthier crops at a cheaper cost, an idea from Andry Lim who has been doing natural farming since 1997.
LGU of Pulilan and DOST are now studying whether natural farming produces disaster resilient crops.
To celebrate this success, the Municipality of Pulilan Bulacan held a Post Disaster Harvest on November 27, 2015, Friday, 10:00am-3.00pm entitled, the 1st Gintong Palay Festival, Tagumpay ng Pagsasaka sa Bayan ng Pulilan to promote the natural farmed rice that survived Typhoon Lando.
To ensure sustainability of the efforts, the first organized natural farming cooperative, Pulilan Rice and Vegetable Producers Cooperative, was formed.
The festival showcased a photo exhibit of the Natural Farmers, their farms and their produce by well-known art photographers in the country, Romain Rivera and Noel San Andres. It is hoped that through the art, the story and journey of natural farmers will be demonstrated and the positive and early signs of success and other lessons learned through arts and culture exhibits and visuals will be documented. Further, the art photograph exhibit aims to provide awareness and demonstrable evidence to key stakeholders from government, academe, business owners, landowners, farmers to the community, of the nutritional benefits and potential in boosting the agriculture of natural farming.
A Natural Farm to Table activity by our partner Gigi Morris of Moca Farm http://www.mocafarm.com located in Brgy. Castillo, Padre Garcia and Chef advocates Alvin and Brooke was held for key stakeholders from government, businesses and the community to demonstrate the higher production yield that can be made in converting their lands to integrated and sustainable natural farming through the multiple sources of revenue.
Go Luntian is currently in partnership with the Municipality of Pulilan Bulacan and Pulilan Rice and Vegetable Producers Cooperative to promote their recent successful efforts. As CNN Philippines puts it, “Farmers suffer huge losses after each typhoon. But in a town in Bulacan, farmers have found a way to make crops disaster-resilient, at a cheaper cost”, while also making it all organic, natural, and more importantly, sustainable as well. What started as a farm visit, turned into a pledge to help the farmers of Pulilan share their inspiring story and truly great products to everyone.