SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE OF a progressive city, buses and motorcycles create sounds that contribute to the noise pollution; the air is impure with dirty smoke from factories, vehicles, and other human doings.; and the people are interfering for their daily sustenance; there is a 9,000 square meters land area filled with ideas that could make you feel like you are in a place far from the city life.
“It is always a good morning in the farm because part of that would be our belief that agriculture should be the way with which the Philippines should be able to improve. Until you’re able to help the 65 percent of your population improve their standard of living, improve their income level, improve their quality of life, then the Philippines should always be Third World,” shares Agripreneur Ramon Peñalosa, Jr. The Peñalosa Farm is situated in Victorias City, Negros Occidental. The farm is a micro model of an integrated organic farm. “It is micro because it is just 9,000 m2,” says Sir Ramon. Sir Ramon explains that “Integrated Farming is the synergy and complementary between crops, live stocks, and farming system so that you are able to create a zero-waste self-contained ecosystem characterized by vertical and horizontal projects.”
At Peñalosa Farm, one plus one is equal to 50. Meaning, you can expand your one core business through the horizontal and vertically integrated projects to all the demands and needs – farm to market, farm to kitchen, and farm to plate. For a case, if swine is your core business with the utilization of the integrated farming concept, you can proceed into the selling of piglets, boars, hogs, etc. The swine are fed, and of course, they produce waste which could be used as manure.
Swine manure or pig manure can be applied as fertilizers in gardens. One way of using it is to compost it with other biodegradable wastes found on the farm. Thus, this could help
your growing plants and save from inorganic fertilizers. Since the manure is available, it is possible for you to grow plants – medicinal, herbs and spices, horticulture, vegetables,
Aside from swine, you can also go into poultry and other types of farm animals. From animals to wastes to plants, Peñalosa Farm is indeed a proof that wastes can be converted into money. Sir Ramon also shares their advocacies in the farm.
‘NO FILIPINO SHOULD GO HUNGRY IN HIS
OWN NATIVE LAND’
The Philippines is very rich in natural resources. “I believe that it is now time for Filipinos to be able to maximize the presence of the different technologies all over the world and use it for the Philippines,” Sir Ramon says. In this modern and technological world, farming technologies are not that far from your reach as long as there is financial assistance.
“Because we now have access to that, then wala na Pilipinong dapat magutom sa sariling bayan,” he points out.
‘THERE IS NO UNPRODUCTIVE SOIL, ONLY
AN UNPRODUCTIVE FARMER’
There are times that you have to go out of your boxes and explore other things for you not to be stagnant on the things you are comfortable with. “You have to dream, and you have to dream big,” Sir Ramon encourages. He said that a farmer should not be dependent on other people. To improve yourselves, you should be able to actually learn.
“You want yourself to improve? Then, improve yourself.”
‘THERE IS MONEY IN THE COUNTRYSIDE’
“We can actually make money even in our own very small setting. We can make a per square meter if we want to. You should be able to maximize anything that you have,” says Sir Ramon.
Not all of us should go and work overseas, nor all of us should be in urban areas. “Your vision should be 3D. When you look at the space, there is the opportunity of time, opportunity of space – meron mababa, meron sa ilalim ng lupa, meron sa ibabaw, meron sa itaas, and meron sa canopy, so that you are able to fully maximize it and as long as you have the competitive edge. And as long as you have something unique and special, people will then go to you,” he explains.
“Kasi, kapag ikaw ang naglalako sa Pilipinas, ang problema mo, ikaw ang binabarat,” Sir Ramon says. You should have a high competitive edge in the market that could possibly be “take it” or “leave it”.
‘A FAMER WHO DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO
PRAY IS NOT A GOOD FARMER’
According to Sir Ramon, the Philippines is the “Disaster Center of the World”. “You can go for disaster tourism. Meaning, you want a volcanic eruption? We have a volcanic eruption. You want a typhoon? We have super typhoons. You want mga baha? Just go to Manila during a habagat season. We have corruption in massiv scales,” he says. “Kung ang Pilipino hindi marunong magdasal, matagal na tayong lumubog.”
He expresses that there is a big difference between a farmer who has someone to lean on and a farmer who doesn’t know how to pray. He believes that the effect of prayer is something that cannot be quantified. “Before it happens in the material world, it begins in the spiritual world. Pray,” he says.
The Peñalosa Farm is definitely a high competitive micro model integrated farm. Sir Ramon states that the first thing a good farmer does is changing himself to be the most productive, the most efficient, and should a passion for excellence. “Kung may ginagawa ka, be the best of what you can be.” He believes that the hope of the Philippines lies on the youth today, but is more dependent on farmers.
“Hanggang hindi tinutulungan ang magsasaka na tumaas ang antas ng kanilang buhay, ang Pilipinas ay palaging third world.”
Article taken with consent from the Tolentine Star Magazine "Transition", Volume LXX no. 8.