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2nd Agroforestry Training
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1st Agroforestry Training
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1st RNIP Agroforestry Training (Cabagan, Isabela, Philippines)

RNIP organized from 17-21 July 2006 a training on agroforestry at the Environmental Information Center, Isabela State University, Cabagan, Isabela, Philippines. To support and concretize concepts and principles covered during the training, two field trips - the first in the afternoon of 18 July and the second for the whole day of 20 July - were done.

In the first trip in the afternoon of 18 July, the participants visited the fertilizer plant of the NorPhil Farmers Cooperative (NORFARCO) located at Solana, Cagayan. The cooperative produces bio-organic fertilizer with the use of sugarcane baggasse and mudpress as the major composting materials for their bio-organic fertilizer (the others being plant leaves and chicken manure). The cooperative sells most of its bio-organic fertilizer to its members although it accepts outsider-buyers at a slightly higher price. Cooperative representatives described in detail the composting process involved in the manufacture of the - NORFARCO Bio-Organic Fertilizer - that involved at least three months. To hasten decomposition of the mixed composting materials, Trichoderma is used. The addition of the bio-organism Azotobacter to the organic fertilizer before packing them into 50-kg bags completes the process.

The group visited next the backyard garden of Mrs. Rose Lucero, a government employee of the Agricultural Training Institute-Regional Training Center (ATI-RTC) located in Cabagan, Isabela. The Lucero family converted the entire backyard of their residential lot into an integrated production area with different kinds of leafy and creeping or climbing vegetables, various fruit and ornamental or forest trees, piggery, poultry, and some plots for vermiculture or composting through earthworms. The arrangement and design of the backyard is impressive and well-planned.

With this very interesting field sites scheduled only for half-day, coupled with the great interest of the group in asking questions, the group was able to go back to the training venue only at seven o'clock.

The second field trip was done for the whole day of 20 July in the municipality of Tabuk, the capital town of Kalinga, one of the provinces in the Cordillera Autonomous Region. Two agroforestry farm sites were visited during the day.

The first farm is the 100-ha Helen's Farm - owned and managed by Mrs. Helen Omengan-Uy. The farm, when acquired by the family in the 1970s, was then dominated by thick grasses like Saccharum spontaneum, Imperata cylindrica and Themeda arundinacia.

The participants toured around the farm with Mrs. Omengan-Uy herself guiding them who answered their questions on all aspects of her practice of agroforestry. The vast farm is composed of multistory, diversity-rich agricultural and forest crops - a perfect success case of an large-scale agroforestry farm. Tree crops in the farm include Pterocarpus spp., Gmelina arborea, Swietenia spp, Acacia auriculaeformis, Eucalyptus spp, Glyrecidia sepium, etc. Fruit trees include mango, durian, lanzones, mangosteen, papaya, citrus varieties, coconut, coffee, cacao, cashew, bamboo, banana, etc. Agricultural crops raised include rice (in a 10-ha irrigated paddies), corn, pineapple, gabi, cassava, camote, eggplant, tomato, pepper, etc. Within the vicinity of the three-storey farm house and along farm access roads are numerous types of ornamental plants like orchids, various palm and bamboo species, Indian hemp and other ornamental and flowering plants.

Integrated to the farm is a pasture area for cattle vegetated of indigenous grasses interspersed with various forage crops used for feed supplement for the cattle. There are also fishponds established in the farm among which is a well-established pond with concrete walling. On one side of this pond is a picnic-site cum grill/cooking area with complete roofing and other amenities such as a viewing deck and seating area. It can also be a perfect place for boating as it has an island with a hut. A church is being built within the vicinity.

After the visit to the farm, the participants were treated to a cultural show of Cordillera culture by the Kalinga-Apayao State College during lunchtime. After a sumptuous lunch hosted by the College, the visitors participated in a free-for-all ethnic dance led by the hosts including the College President. Representatives from the five countries represented in the training gave their impressions before leaving for the next farm to be visited.

The second farm visited by the group is located in a sloping mountain side in Bantay, a village along the Tabuk-Lubuagan road around eight kilometers farther following the Chico River. The road connects the province of Kalinga to the adjacent province of Mountain Province.

Before World War II, the area was formerly grassland. The Sakki family from Bontoc settled in the area and started to develop it. Planting various tree species was started by the family in the 1940s coupled with raising cows in other areas. Coffee and fruit trees were also planted. In 1980, the whole area along the Chico River was proclaimed as watershed because of the then proposed series of dams through the Chico River Basin Development Project. It was also during these years that the family was encouraged to do agroforestry in the sloping areas of the farm; the flatter areas were planted with rice. Among the fruit trees raised include Santol, Pomelo, Mangoes, Oranges, Coconut, Lanzones, Lychee, Marang, Oranges, Rambutan, Papaya, Jack fruit, and coffee of various varieties.

At present, if viewed from afar, the farm is vegetated of tree crops predominantly Rain Tree (Samanea saman) here and there interspersed with Narra (Pterocarpus spp.). The whole area is now as a series of fenced farms subdivided among the 10 children of the Sakki family. One of the daughters hosted the training participants, served snacks coming from papaya and coconuts harvested from their farms, and guided them around the farms of the other children.

On the way home, the training participants stopped at the Chico dam, the only one completed among the four planned dams by the Chico River Basin Development Project, a World Bank-funded project conceived in 1965. Construction then was continuously delayed because of sustained resistance from local people, until the government was finally forced to cancel the project because of sustained opposition. The Chico River is presently promoted by the local government unit as a rafting destination for tourists.

For the whole day, the training participants saw for themselves farms that practice productive and sustainable agroforestry.


 

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