(Patrick Raymund A. Lesaca/DA-BAR)
Corn is one of the important crops produced in the Philippines. In Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, producing yellow corn is one of the main sources of livelihood among its farmers. However, one of the challenges experienced by the Sablayan corn farmers is low corn productivity.
Around 70 percent of the farmers are producing below the national corn production average of 3-4 metric tons (mt) per hectare. Due to lack technical know-how and capital, some farmers are still following the recommended management practices and the amount of fertilizers to be applied. However, this changed when a research intervention, a science-based approach in growing corn was introduced to them in 2017 through the project, “Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) on Yellow Corn Using Site-Specific Nutrient Management (SSNM)”.
SSNM is an approach that advocates the use of available organic nutrient sources (e.g. crop residues and manures) and inorganic fertilizers to meet the nutrient demand of a high-yielding crop. This means feeding crops with nutrients as and only when needed. It employs tools to estimate the optimum amount that organic nutrient sources can contribute to crop nutrition so that only the deficit in nutrient need is satisfied with inorganic fertilizer.
Funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), project aimed to increase corn production from 5-8 mt per hectare, enhance the use of biofertilizer and organic matter for corn, andintroduce the SSNM to the farmer-cooperators and other stakeholders are the objectives of the project. Implemented in Brgys. San Vicente and Tagumpay in Sablayan, Occ. Mindoro, 20 farmers, 10 from each barangay were identified as CPAR farmer-cooperators.
During project implementation, farmers were taught on the rudiments of SSNM and guided by using the Quick Guide for Fertilizing Hybrid Yellow Corn. They were also trained on best management practices, including recommended planting distance; fertilizer application schedule, which is based on SSNM rate; pest and disease control, and harvesting.
“When you combined these protocols or best practices, one can be assured of a good harvest” said by Jose Paquidongan, CPAR farmer-cooperator from Brgy. Tagumpay.
Prior to becoming a full-time farmer, Paquidongan, 59, used to be an employee of a multi-national hybrid seed company promoting the use of various hybrid seeds across the country. Sometime in the 90s, his Manila office sent him, on a short mission, to Occ. Mindoro to explore the island and introduce hybrid seeds. Never did he realize that destiny has its own calling.
In 2003, Paquidongan resigned from his job and went back to Mindoro to push his luck and decided to settle down and follow the course of his destiny. Backed by experience as a seed grower, Paquidongan became a full-time rice and corn seed grower in Sablayan, and later formed a farmers’ cooperative. In 2011, the local government of Mindoro recognized him as one of the most outstanding farmers in the region.
Being a farmer and a seed grower, Paquidongan continued to till the family-owned five-hactare farm planted with rice and corn, and eventually became a full-pledge farmer. “Tatlumpung-taon na akong nagsasaka ng mais dito sa aming lugar at isa mga alalahanin ng mga magsasaka ay ang mababang produksyon ng mais,” said Paquidongan.
On the average, the municipality produces four metric tons of yellow corn per hectare. “At sa aking karanasan bilang isang seed grower, kaya pang tumaas ang produksyon, marahil tamang teknolohiya ang kailangan”, he said. Maximizing the full potential of the island was his vision then.
According to Paquidongan, sometime in 2016, the DA-MIMAROPA and the provincial government conducted a Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) seminar in search of a farmer-partner who would qualify as farmer-cooperator of the BAR-funded project on CPAR-SSNM. In 2017, Paquidongan, along with the other 19 farmers became partners of the project.
“Simula ng nagabayan ng SSNM sa tamang planting schedule, nutrient management, rekomendadong planting distance, soil analysis at ang CPAR technology, masasabi kung tumaas ang aming ani,” Paquidongan revealed. He furtherd that his first harvest reached 6.7 mt per hectare by applying the SSNM technology. His current production has now reached 7.9 mt per hectare giving him and his family an added income of roughly PhP 14,000 per cropping. “Hindi lang ako ang umani ng ganon, ang iba sa aming mga kasamahan, halos ganon din ang produksiyon,” he added.