OCCIDENTAL MINDORO, August 29, 2022 – To promote the use of organic inputs and reduce farming costs for rice production, the Department of Agriculture – Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) Program trained 50 farmers from Rizal, Occidental Mindoro in vermicast production on August 18-19, 2022.
The training, held in the farmers’ communities in Brgy. Malawaan and Salvacion, was spearheaded by Mr. Juven M. de Guzman, Agricultural Extension Worker (AEW) from the Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO). It covered topics on cultural management of vermicomposting and the proper usage and benefits of using vermicast.
Vermicast is an organic fertilizer produced by a type of earthworm called African Nightcrawler by decomposing organic matter such as banana husks, cassava leaves, kitchen wastes, and ipil-ipil that are abundant in their areas.
Twenty-five (25) members of the Malawaan 4th Intake Farmers Irrigators Association Inc. (Malawaan 4th Intake) situated in Brgy. Malawaan, twenty-two (22) farmers of Nagkakaisang Magsasaka from Brgy. Salvacion, and three (3) interested individuals from their community participated in the training.
The Vermicomposting Facility Project FY 2021 was worth Php 541,350.00, including one (1) unit of shredder with complete accessories in March 2022 and 60-square meter (sqm) vermicomposting housing with five (5) beds. Each association received said project with the same amount. The construction of the vermicomposting facilities was completed in June 2022.
During the training, AEW Mr. de Guzman shared his personal experience in vermicomposting as he produces vermicast and use the product for their farmlands, “Maganda ang paggamit ng vermicast dahil sa bawat paggamit mo nito sa iyong taniman, nababawasan ng nababawasan ang chemical inputs na kailangan mong gamitin dahil napapataba [ng vermicast] ang lupa.”
(Using vermicast is beneficial as it reduces the need for chemical inputs in every usage because it [vermicast] fertilizes and enriches the soil.)
According to him, it can reduce the usage of chemical inputs for up to two (2) sacks per hectare (ha) if coupled with years of continuous use of 10-15 sacks of vermicast per hectare. Compared to chemical fertilizers, a sack of vermicast in the market is cheaper with prices ranging from Php 500.00 to Php 600.00.
Mr. Maximo Laredo, Chairperson of Malawaan 4th Intake shared that the association is dependent on chemical fertilizers for their farms. With prices of chemical inputs ranging from Php 2,700.00 to Php 3,000.00 per bag, Mr. Laredo spends at least seven (7) bags of synthetic fertilizers amounting to Php 21,000.00.
Mr. Laredo and his fellow beneficiaries look forward to utilizing vermicast for their fields and experiencing its benefits. After each training, both groups have started planning for their first vermicast production by assigning members that will secure materials for making substrate from shredded ipil-ipil and cassava leaves which will be layered in the vermicomposting bed and will be left to decompose for seven (7) to ten (10) days.
The African Nightcrawlers will feed on the substrate, and after 30 to 45 days, vermicast or the worm’s casting along with the uneaten bedding and feedstock will be ready for harvest.
The DA agencies, in tandem with State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), have started implementing the Balanced Fertilization Strategy (BFS) Program – a method of combining organic and inorganic inputs and other strategies (i.e., cover cropping or green manuring, individual farmer soil fertility map, improve cropping systems, etc.) to attain the maximum potential of farmlands while improving soil fertility and structure.
This aims to help the farmers integrate the use of organic inputs in their rice production to eventually reduce farming costs due to synthetic fertilizer price increases.
The vermicomposting facility projects awarded to the beneficiaries are SAAD’s counterparts in supporting the BFS. The program continues to work hand-in-hand with the LGUs and other partner agencies in providing specialized training and assistance to help the beneficiaries adopt the technologies cascaded to them, leading to better yield and lower farming costs. ###
Writer: Dianne Francis A. Sy-Gorembalem, DA-SAAD MIMAROPA Information Officer
Sources: Mr. Mario S. Paz, Jr., SAAD Area Coordinator – Rizal