Making the Planet Organic Before We Become Organic
Mr. Tirso Martirez is from Balatan, Camarines Sur. He is a founding member and officer of the Rinconada Movement for Environment and Sustainable Agriculture (RINCOMESA), a producer of organic fertilizers, and a trainer on organic/sustainable agriculture. He was introduced to organic agriculture while he was an active member of RINCOMESA.
Mr. Martirez shifted to organic agriculture in 2000 after attending a training on agroforestry production and post-production system conducted by the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM). Since then, he had attended several trainings on organic agriculture where he learned more about sustainable farming strategies that he applied in his own farm. The training courses also include Business Organizational Management, Simple Financial Management and Bookkeeping. He believes that equipping himself with these knowledge would not only make him an effective organic farmer but also a successful agri-preneur. He is now a trainer on different sustainable agriculture approaches in the Philippines. He was a participant in a six-month organic agriculture exchange program organized by the Association of Medical Doctors of Asia (AMDA), which was held in Okoyama, Japan. Mr. Martirez envisions himself developing agro-forestry models and establishing community-based sustainable livelihood enterprises.
Mr. Tirso Martirez owns a 4-hectare farm in Balatan, Camarines Sur. More than half (60%) of his farm is alloted to Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT) and planted diverse crops. His farm has four (4) major components.
The first component is mango-based cropping system. Planted along the contours are diverse feed, fruit, root and tuber, and other crops (Table 1). Raising free-range chickens is also part of this component. The second component is a watershed development and aquaculture area where he grows different kind of fruit trees and maintains a tilapia pond.
The third component is coconut-based which he uses for the expansion of his feed crop production. The fourth component is a multi-livelihood system, including raising native hogs, goats, and turkeys as well as processing of agroforestry by-products.
Mr. Martirez uses self-produced vermicompost and EM-based fertilizers as nutrient sources. In the preparation of EM-based fertilizer, he uses dried leaves from the farm, and experimented on different additives as food sources for the microrganims. Among those he had experimented on are honey, molasses, cocoa powder, papaya, and other materials available in the farm. In all his trials, he uses spring water to ensure that the water is not chlorinated.
Mr. Martirez’s vermicompost was subjected to routine analysis by the DA-RFU V, Regional Soils Laboratory and was found to contain 8.28% total NPK (0.71%N, 6.76% P and 0.81% K). As additional source of income, he sells excess vermicast at PhP 300 per 50 kg sack. Mr. Martirez shared that basal application of macro and micro nutrients depends on the crops and soil condition.
Mr. Martirez’s dream of an agriculture enterprise is now becoming a reality. Step by step he is taking actions towards the realization of his goals. He had already registered his business name “JGSH-V MENU AGRO-FORESTRY PRODUCTION” at the Department of Trade and Industry in Bicol. Moreover, he had also secured a Mayor’s Permit and BIR registration for the legitimization of his agribusiness. In order to sustain his enterprise, Mr. Martirez employs business strategies, based on his experiences, such as simplified sustainable operation by making the business a family enterprise, farm management operation cycle, and farm maintenance through communal labor sharing or “bayanihan”. To strengthen his market linkages and sell his organic products, he is actively involved in networking, linkaging, collaboration with stakeholders, and forging partnerships with farmers through mentoring and sharing his actual farming testimonies. He also participates in sustainable development campaigns as part of his personal advocacy.
With his experience in organic farming enterprise, he was able to learn how to maximize farm resources as source of livelihood thus gradually reducing income leakage. He has also proven that with determination, his agri-based enterprise is actually simple and attainable. Similarly, he believes that by making his farm diverse and integrated, he is doing his share to help mitigate climate change impacts while his farming approaches serve as a disaster risk reduction model.
Mr. Martirez has grand plans in the future for his farm. He plans to collect more indigenous plants, not only as farm resource but also as learning specimens for future generations who might not be able to see them in their natural environments. He also wants to expand and further develop his farm to make it an agro-ecotourism destination and a sustainable agriculture learning center in Bicol. Mr. Martirez also wants to explore local energy development in his farm as source of sustainable renewable energy. In terms of product marketing, he is preparing to improve the branding and packaging of his products. As a whole, he sees his plans would be able to generate local jobs and he could help his fellow Bicolanos the best way he can.
(This article is written by: Tirso Martinez and Carmelita N. Cervantes and has been drawn from the book, ORGANIC AGRICULTURE TECHNOLOGIES AND SYSTEMS DEVELOPED AND ADAPTED BY FARMERS IN THE PHILIPPINES, with consent from the Editors: Oscar B. Zamora and Blesilda M. Calub.)