By Yvette Tan

AgriTalk, a series of free agriculture seminars organized by Manila Bulletin’s Agriculture magazine in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture and it’s Agriculture Training Institute just concluded its Mindanao leg.

Held in SM CDO Downtown Premier, the one day event featured a discussion on square foot gardening, basic beekeeping, and mushroom production.

Farmer and ATI staff Honorio Cervantes regaled the crowd with his experiences in successfully planting food crops in a small space. “This method is all organic and uses no fertilizers or pesticides. Best of all, it requires less tools, no hard work,  reduces water by 90%, and has no weeds,” Cervantes’ presentation stated. Proper farm planning, plant spacing, and exposure to sunlight is essential to a good harvest. As an example, a square foot can produce a kilogram of pechay. 16 square feet can produce 80 kg, which, at Php50 per kilo, means Php4000 gross income.

Almost 700 people attended AgriTalk’s CDO leg, showing that a lot of Filipinos want to be farmers.

Jocelyn Ellevera, DA-RFO 10’s Technical Expert on Apiculture, and her assistant spoke about basic beekeeping. They explained the types of bees available, the kinds of bees in a hive and the different products one can derive from beekeeping aside from honey, such as propolis and beeswax. They also gave a primer on hive management which included the ideal location for an apiary (quiet and near a good source of pollen) and colony care and maintenance (make sure the queen is healthy). Beekeeping needs a lot of patience and perseverance, but is ultimately a rewarding endeavor.

L-R Information Officer III Noemi Beth Macario; speakers Honorio Cervantes, Jocelyn Ellevera, and May Shell Tumilap; Information Officer III Rita Dela Cruz; Manila Bulletin’s Yvette Tan, and event host Mari De Leon.

DA-RFO 10’s Technical Expert on Mushroom May Shell Tumilap gave an in-depth lecture on mushroom production, from media preparation to post-harvest. Mushrooms are a popular ingredient in many cuisines, and can make for a lucrative business. Tumilap emphasized the importance of making sure that the farmer gets mushrooms spores from a reputable source. Also important is starting with pure culture media (the mushroom spores) and sterilized substrate (where the mushrooms grow from), so as not to contaminate or kill the potential harvest. Oyster mushrooms can be harvested in as little as four days after mushrooms begin to form, typically about five months after cultivation.

The event was attended by almost 700 people, a sure sign that the interest in Philippine agriculture is alive and well. As of this writing, there are two more AgriTalks scheduled for 2019.

AgriTalk Cebu will be held on August 9 and AgriTalk Cavite will be held on October 18.

Watch out for future announcements via our social media: @agriculturemagazine on Facebook and Instagram and @agrimonthly on Twitter.