Mayor Maria Angela Garcia amid chili farm. Photo by Ernie Esconde
DINALUPIHAN, Bataan — Harvesting of high value crops in ten pilot farms here employing Israeli-farm technology began Monday and farmers on Tuesday reported that their income almost tripled compared to when they planted palay.
Daina Naguiat, wife of farmer Ricky, said they used to plant palay in the 1.4-hectare land where they harvested watermelon Monday after planting for the first time the crop end of December 2020.
“Mas malaki ang inani namin at maganda ang kita sa pakwan kaysa palay,” she said.
Ariel Mallari, another farmer, said he was expecting bountiful harvest and more income from his 1.4-hectare farm planted with chili Pinatubo and chili Cleopatra, tomato and eggplant.
He planted the crops Dec. 30, 2020 and due for harvest first week of March 2021.
Naguiat and Mallari are two of the participating farmers in the “10 Magsasaka, 10 Ektarya Tungo sa Masaganang Ani at Mataas na Kita.”
It is a project of the 1Bataan Agri Inno Tech Corp. under a private-public partnership between the Bataan provincial government under Gov. Albert Garcia and Agrilever–Israel.
Under the scheme, the farmers commit their farms for the project while the provincial government and Agrilever take charge of the drip fertigation, seeds and inputs.
The main crops were watermelon, chili, eggplant, and tomato.
Aharon Shmuel, Agrilever–Israel coordinator, said the income of the farmers was a little less than tripled because the yield was three times more than when the farms were planted to rice.
“Of course, that’s our main purpose. The whole idea is making the farmer in a better situation than just growing rice,” Shmuel said when asked if the income will further increase.
He explained how drip fertigation operates in the farms.
“The technology that we are bringing with us, we want to implement them in the smart way that will be suitable for local condition. So, because we are implementing ten different farmers with ten different set–ups and four different crops and different soil type, we had to bring an irrigation system that will be flexible enough to feed all of them,” Shmuel said.
Dinalupihan Mayor Maria Angela Garcia said the farmers will still plant palay during the wet season but during the dry season when there is not enough irrigation water, they wanted to introduce drip fertigation or the combination of irrigation water and fertilizers.
She said that during the dry season when drip fertigation is not used, the harvest in high value crops is approximately 8 to 12 tons.
“Pero using drip irrigation dito sa atin, ang target forecast na nakikita natin kung talagang kaya ay 40 tons per hectare na times three to four ngunit mataas pa dito ang gusto namin dahil sa Israel ay 80 tons per hectare,” the mayor said.
“Ito ay para sa mga magsasaka na hindi gaano kalaki at hindi napapaikot ng husto ang kita at pangangailangan para ma-improve ang kalidad ng kanilang buhay. Gusto rin naming matugunan ang national na pangangailangan ng food sufficiency, availability at affordability,” Garcia said.
The mayor said children shun farming because they experience how hard the lives of their parents as farmers are. “Through the model farms, we want the children to see the advantages of precision farming with the hope of convincing them to go into this venture.”
Garcia said with the beautiful result of the project, farmers are now volunteering to have their farms included in their target of replicating it in at least 100 hectares of farms in Bataan during the dry season period of October 2021 to March 2022.
“Kapag maipakita natin na sa isang ektarya ganitong gastos pero ganito ang kita, ang ating mga magsasaka na ang magiging ambassador natin sa pag–replicate nito,” the mayor said.