by Ma. Kathleen C. Cabal
After the barangay was hit by a blight on October 2011, the farmers were of Barangay Dila in Bay, Laguna are still having several problems with their primary source of income, according to Menandro Curibot, one of the councilors and farmers of Barangay Dila.
A blight is a plant condition after being infected by an infectious pest causing the death of the plant tissues. “Dadalawang kaban lang ang nakuha ko ‘nun. Dapat mga 100 hanggang 120 sako ang aanihin namin. Humigit kumulang Php 50,000.00 yung nalugi sa akin”, Curibot shared.
Because of the blight, some of the farmers decided to temporarily lease their lands and opted to go for other sources of income. “Pinaupahan muna namin ng dalawang cycle yung lupa namin. Sa landscape at gardening na lang muna ako ngayon, pero marami na rin kasing ka-kumpetensya sa landscaping ngayon,” he added.
The barangay submitted a proposal for the soil testing analysis November last year. Out of the 200 hectares of rice field in the barangay, the Bureau of Soils, in cooperation with the Municipal Agricultural Office, approved 50 hectares for soil testing. Results showed that the main problem of the rice field is zinc deficiency, thus soil conditioning was granted to the land owners.
Also one of the major programs funded by their barangay to boost their farming and gardening livelihood is their ongoing Barangay Garden. This aims to extend help to the farmers, gardeners and other residents from their barangay who needs support after they failed to harvest their crops last cycle.
Headed by their barangay captain, the councilors and barangay watchmen are working together to maximize the free use of some of the private empty lots at Bayview Subdivision, Bay, Laguna. These lots were transformed into a temporary barangay garden where they can plant root crops and vegetables to consume or to sell.
“Binebenta sa palengke yung iba hanggang sa bumalik yung capital. Sobra-sobra naman ito kaya yung mga matitira binibigay na sa mga nangangailangan”, he explained.
Some of the vegetables planted in the Barangay Garden are pechay, mustasa, and talbos ng kamote. Another program that seeks to help the farmers is the ongoing rebuilding of the Dila Multipurpose Cooperatives for Progress, Inc.
Councilor Curibot, also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the cooperative, explained the need for the license renewal of the cooperative, saying that most of the members of the cooperative are also farmers.
“Agricultural Cooperative kasi talaga kami. Ang taas nga lang ng standards ng CDA (Cooperative Development Authority) ngayon kaya medyo nahihirapan kami sa license renewal. Pero konti nalang naman ang kulang namin. Yung financial statement tinatapos na rin namin ngayon,” he reported.
Farm managers of Barangay Dila are now also shifting from pure rice planting to ornamentals, herbs and spices since the income decline in rice production.
“Nagiging diverse na rin kami ngayon. Yung mga gardeners naman dito, considered as farmers rin. Nag-umpisa na kami magtanim ng mga Bougainvillea. Tapos pinasok na rin namin ang ornamentals. Ngayon naman, pumapasok na kami sa herbs and spices.”
He also said that some of the farmers decided to stick with rice planting despite the inclome decline mainly because they do not want the rice production in their barangay to decline.
“Marami rin kasi ditong farm managers. Yung ibang mga farmers dito, mga emergency farm laborers lang. Kasi siyempre tututok ka dun [sa rice planting] pero maganda naman ang kita sa ornamental. Para lang mapanatili yung rice planting kaya nasa rice planting pa yung iba.”