Organic farming catching fire in Davao City

By Lorie A. Cascaro

The number of practitioners of organic farming in Davao City is growing–and counting.
City Agriculturist Leo Avila III said his office is still in the process of determining how many organic farming practitioners there are in the city.
Although informing the entire agriculture sector in the method has still a long way to go, he did say that many have already announced their intention to apply it soon.
Already, a hundred-hectare vegetable farm has become an organic zone in Sibulan, Toril district.
Ricelands in Tugbok, where catfish and Tilapia ponds are propagated, have turned to organic farming after chemical-based farm inputs there had proven detrimental to neighboring fish production.
There will be an additional 400 hectares of upland rice to the existing 1,000 hectares whose recipients have received upland rice seeds donated by the city government.
Meanwhile, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has issued an executive order convening the Organic Agriculture Management Council represented by Avila.
She also created a Technical Working Committee for Organic Agriculture, the core body to promote organic farming, as mandated by the Organic Agriculture Act.
Noting that the city has an organic agriculture ordinance, Avila said the City Agriculturist’s Office is fully supportive of organic farming.
Natural farming is already an accepted concept among farmers, said Josephine Lim, president of Earthsoul Solutions, Inc.
“We’ve been around the country and teaching these advocacies,” she said, adding that their advocacies include stopping the use of genetically modified  organisms (GMO), pesticides and herbicides.
Earthsoul Solutions facilitates the transfer of technology to farmers, particularly in making their own organic fertilizers, Ibno Hajar Turabin, its president said.
Bio control agents
Instead of using chemical-based fertilizers and pesticides, the city promotes the use of biological control agents, according to Avila.
“There are beneficial insects that can be useful for our agriculture. Eventually, we will not find the need for chemicals. Sometimes, we need chemicals only as a last resort,” he said.
He mentioned parasitoid, an insect that develops within a single host and killing it, which is used to control corn borers for instance.
The city government is propagating as much parasitoids as possible, he said.
Biodynamics is also a way of planting certain crops at certain times following the cycle of nature, which he said if applied will render a better chance for successful farming, he added.
Avila said farmers in the city can attest that organic farming is sustainable, and it was the women sector which first lobbied with his office to promote organic farming.