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If there is an industry that does not have a backstabbing strategy with its competition, it is in Agriculture where farmers even share their secrets and train fellow farmers to succeed. This has been ingrained in my mind during my three Organic Farm Tours in the various provinces I have visited. The farmers are trusting and generous with their knowledge towards other struggling farmers. They see no point in holding back as they believe the impoverished farmers and general public will benefit in the end. Why hold back indeed when there is way too much demand, more than the farmers can provide. The problems in the slow or even stagnating development in Philippine Agriculture  is focused on underutilized land, not enough machines, some lazy farmers, abusive middlemen, fund support going to personal pockets, lack of support from local government officials.

SAM_3877The Bacolod organic farmers have decided to do something about it among themselves, without waiting for the slow support from govenement . They experimented, learned from mistakes, looked for viable options, built their own machines, then trained the other farmers, loaned them machines in a pay-when-able mode. They help each other to increase their fold and make farming a good, income-generating businesss.

In my third Organic Agriculture Immersion to Bacolod, the bloggers had the good fortune of staying in May’s Organic Garden. This picturesque, fresh air, comfortable farm with accommmodation owned by Ramon and May Uy made the trip to Bacolod memorable 

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as we experienced farm life with city comforts. The women shared a room with two clean bathrooms, soft beddings in cheerful colors, with color-coded towels. It was so tempting to just lie in those comfortable beds in between farm visits. Meals were tasty, healthy treats with home-grown vegetables and fruits, red rice, organic coffee, clean fish, and organic desserts. Though exhaused from our farm trips, we were still pampered with an evening of music, that is videoke with drinks and pika-pika. Needless to say, our host, May’s Organic Garden farm, made the Bacolod trip a lot of fun for all of us

SAM_3884Mr. Ramon Uy was the first to share about the Bacolod Farmers’ plight. He explained how most of these provincial farmers were by nature trusting and generous to the point of almost working for nothing. They could easily be taken advantaged of by shrewd businessmen. They sell their harvest for a song but when these produce are sold to end consumers, we spend an extra 70% profit that goes to the retailers and not the farmers.

SAM_3895Mr. Uy, being one of the Bacolod farmer leaders, is the motivational speaker for farmers to love what they do and earn a decent living for their toils. He holds regular training sessions in his home and also developed a threshing machine that would save time and money for the farmers. These machines cost a lot but he made a deal with the farmers to collect when they already start to have income. His strategy of collection from these struggling farmers is to get a percentage from “earned income rather than their available wealth”. He understands the farmers’ situation, being one himself, making it his goal to help them become self-sufficient which overrides his businessman’s instinct of acquiring profit right away. “Let’s create wealth then partition, don’t get existing wealth from the farmers.” 

SAM_3897Along with ways to make money by developing organic fertilizer, ways to price their goods, developing end user products from excess, Mr. Uy ‘s lecture gist is to “Train Farmers, support them financially, then when they are earning that is when it is time to collect debt owed”.  “Government should address livelihood instead of setting up guards, ” adds Mr. Uy regarding conservation projects.  Because, according to him,  if people are earning enough to feed their families, they don’t need to poach or steal.

For the rest of us non-farmers, we should look for and patronize organic produce to support our farmers so they farm responsibly, not using toxic fertilizers, but making the effort to grow naturally, more nutritious and disease-preventing vegetables and fruits.

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