Worms crawling out agri-workers, others from joblessness in NE town

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    LLANERA, Nueva Ecija – Earthworms, the invertebrate animals which make many squeamish upon seeing them, are looked up to here as livelihood provider particularly to the agricultural workers displaced by the ‘halimaw” which gobbled their big source of income.

    “Our local government unit here has launched an expanded vermiculture project to bring multiple benefits for our agricultural workers, the municipal government, and the environment,” said Jordan Sibuma, extension worker of this town’s municipal agricultural office.

    Thru vermiculture, he said, the vermicast or organic fertilizers produced by the worms, of the night crawler type, can give fairly good income for the agricultural workers in lieu of their palay shares during harvest time, and for other interested parties.

    The vermicast, experts said, is high in nitrogen, potassium, calcium and trace elements and contains billions of micro-organisms which continue to work by breaking down organic matters.

    The agricultural workers here, like the rest in the province, lost their means of sharing in the palay harvest due to the presence of the “halimaw,” a machine that reaps, threshes, and hauls the crop. Human harvesters are usually given a share of “ika-walo” or one cavan for every 100 cavans harvested.

    The project, the extension worker said, can also help clean the environment as the biodegradable matters scattered elsewhere can be used for beddings that will be decomposed by the night crawlers.

    “The vermicast will be bought by our municipal government,” Sibuma said.

    He said Mayor Ronnie Roy Pascual is inclined to raise the buying price of P200 to P350 per bag of vermicast so that the farmers and others can earn more. He added that the bags of vermicast would be sold to landowners here and in other places.

    To further promote the project, concrete vermi-beds are produced and distributed for free here. The beds measure one by four meters each. Night crawler parent stocks are also given for free for those who cannot afford to buy them.

    One kilogram of the night crawler, it was learned, costs P450. Stocking rate is one kilogram per square meter of vermi-bed.

    “One producer can expect from 75 kilograms to 100 kilograms of compost per bed per cycle of 35 to 45 days,” Sibuma said. “School children and out of school youths can also earn by collecting dried carabao manure in the field and other biodegradable materials and selling them at P20 per sack,” he added.

    This town was first introduced to vermicomposting in 2010 when then Mayor Lorna Mae Vero launched “Organic Fertilizer Production Household Enterprise” project with assistance coming from various sources. A training center for vermicomposting was also put up here and a shredding machine was acquired.

    Interest on this project waned, however, due to uncertainties brought about by the recent election fever. As Vero was serving out her last term, the participants to the project were unsure if the venture would continue.

    “Our new mayor is continuing the project. He sees it as a good income source for many of our residents here,” Sibuma said.

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