Sunday, July 29, 2012

Natural Farming Training Seminar

A truly wonderful 4-day training on how to grow crops, fruit trees, and livestock without any chemical pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics and hormones. More than that it teaches you how to enjoy farming,be self-reliant,respect life, and lead a healthy happy life. When I started this blog about 10 years ago this was the vision I had when I hired a consultant to turn my 2000 sqm property in Antipolo into an organic farm. Unfortunately, this person was unscrupulous and I had to give up the dream. I tried to do it on my own but my only resources were books on Permaculture and Organic Farming, all from a northern perspective. It was very difficult to apply to a tropical climate and looking for alternatives was even more daunting and time consuming. One would have to be educated in botany, entomology, soil science, ecology, etc, etc. Or at the very least have a degree in agriculture. I decided instead to pursue environmental studies and environmental conservation is the work I do now. In the process I have come back to farming in one of my foundation's projects. Conventional agriculture is one of the greatest foes of wildlife habitat and causes massive environmental degradation. It is also not very lucrative for the farm worker who stays poor and lives on a hand-to-mouth existence. Something has to be done to change this. Afterall, where would we be without farmers, or the environment for that matter? The farmer's status in society has gone way down since the Green Revolution. It's no longer a job anyone aspires to, but is undertaken out of necessity. Farm owners, on the other hand, are lucrative and wealthy. It has become a business like any other that has taken the processes of nature and the wellbeing of people out of the equation. Conventional farm owners, to put it simply, have only one thing in mind and that is to make a profit, which unfailingly leads to cutting corners. Thus, nutrition and flavor of the produce was placed on the wayside as well as kindness to living things, self-reliance, and pride in one's work. There is no virtue in conventional agriculture.

One thing to keep in mind, Natural Farming is not for the lazy. The 4-day training was intense. In the end I came out armed with the philosophical and practical knowledge I need to start farming the proper way. I went with two of my staff. Mario was with me from the beginning in Antipolo, a farmer from Negros who will come with me to Antique. Noriel works for me in CAPE Foundation, Inc. and will eventually be training other farmers. Natural Farming is different from organic farming in that it uses the Korean method of applying the principles of nature in controlling the outcome of one's produce. The use of indigenous microorganisms in making fertilizers and inducing growth is the main component of Korean Natural Farming, a method of farming developed in the 1960's by Cho Han-kyu. Today, this method of farming has centers in Japan, China,Thailand, Malaysia (center of NF in SEA), Philippines, Vietnam, and Mongolia. Now just imagine that this farming method has been in existence before the present widespread conventional agriculture that was initiated and touted as the Green Revolution by the USA. In fact, traditional farming in many parts of the world has been lost and replaced by the pervasive monoculture farming method which relies on buying farming inputs and depending on technology provided by these corporations. To earn a decent profit from it would need to be done on a large scale. The bigger the farm, the better. Because of the sheer size of conventional farms, having machinery is necessary, which means being reliant on fossil fuels. As a matter-of-fact, conventional farming is completely relient on fossil fuels. You can imagine how much capital you'd need to start a conventional farm. You would think that this would be a lucrative business because of its pervasiveness and the simple fact that you have a ready market. Yet, do you know of a rich farmer in the US or anywhere in the world? I haven't heard of a farmer making the Forbes 500. Yet, the corporations that sell farming inputs, farm machinery and farm produce litter the Fortune 500 list. In the Philippines, government seats are filled with agricultural landowners.

An alternative, or rather, going back to traditional methods of farming and ridding ourselves of the type of farming that is destructive to nature and our wellbeing is necessary if we are to achieve food security and environmental sustainability.

Mutants On Your Plate by Alan C. Robles
An article that explains the nature of GMO and its effects on health and the environment.

Why Are Filipino Hungry? by Ernesto N. OrdoƱez
A comprehensive look at the causes of hunger in the Philippines.

Inappropriate Antibiotic Use in the Philippines
A paper on the multiple effects of inappropriate use of antibiotics. The section of antibiotic use in agriculture and aquaculture is relevant to this post.

Antibiotic Sourced from Mushroom to Boost Livestock
An interesting paper on using Clitopilus passeckerianus in fermented juices.

How Sustainable is Organic Agriculture in the Philippines?

Philippine Organic Agriculture Information Network

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