By Julio P. Yap Jr.
Establishing compact farms practising small-scale agriculture has the potential to boost the economic status of local communities, and eventually lift the small farmers out of poverty.
Even the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has emphasized that the small farmers, particularly the women and the young, are a vital element in reducing poverty and improving global food security.
After all, majority of the fresh food comes from small-scale agriculture, thus, contributing to feeding the growing urban households.
With this in mind, Francis Neil T. Pedralvez has introduced a Business Farm Prototype, which is a paradigm for a sustainable and efficient agricultural development in the country.
Pedralvez says the project aims to actualize a sustainable development process or system which could be tapped for policy development in introducing a rural development strategy that is borne out of the interlaced intricacies of actual production circumstances, market influences, and current government policy dynamics.
Anchored on advocated strategies and situations, together with possible influences for change in policy implementation of agricultural development strategies, he says, the project espouses the idea within the realm of manageability and the principles of economies of scale, in relation to production capacities.
Pedralvez, who is incidentally the chief agrarian reform project officer at the Region-3 office of the Department of Agrarian Reform, explained that the project aims to create a prototype showcase business farm through an economic size production area, which is larger than a typical backyard farm.
The size of which could be between 500 and 2,000 square meters where the production method is anchored on erasing the old concepts regarding the disadvantages of seasonal farming.
Pedralvez said this could be achieved by adopting the three crop rule, which is composed of the cash crop, the insurance crop, and the main crop.
The cash crop is composed of different vegetables such as lettuce and similar varieties which could be harvested in a short period of time, and planted at an interval of one week per batch so as to provide an immediate source of income that could be realized regularly.
Pedralvez explained that the regularity can be achieved through a cycle in which upon harvesting the 4th or 5th batches following some four to five weeks of implementation, the 1st batch is now ready for harvesting and sale, and after replanting the 1st batch, the 2nd batch would be ready for harvesting.
This is where the cycle should proceed, he pointed out.
According to Pedralvez, this strategy is expected to provide an immediate source of income for the small farmers, and to defray farming expenditures while awaiting the harvest of the main crops, which usually comes after the 3rd month of implementation.
The insurance crops are vegetables that are in-season, which must be resilient to calamities or pest infestation.
This would ensure that the compact farm can be sustainable to generate an income to cushion losses which may unexpectedly come up for the business farm.
On the other hand, the main crops are those considered as off-season, which could fetch higher prices when sold, thus allowing the venture to attain a higher income to sustain its operations, and provide a reasonable investment returns for the adopters.
But in order to attain a bountiful harvest, and ensure that the crops would eventually grow well, Pedralvez opted to use the different varieties of Condor seeds at his own model backyard farm, which he sources from Allied Botanical Corporation (ABC).
Aside from the better germination rate of Condor seeds, he pointed out that he has more varieties to choose from among the many products of the company.
Pedralvez says he also gets vital technical support from ABC through Region-3 area sales manager Tacs Ong and ABC agronomist Christopher Cruz who are both servicing his farm which is located at the backyard of his home in Barangay Maligaya, Dinalupihan, Bataan.
With the help of several farm workers who are all graduates of agricultural courses from
the Bataan Peninsula State University in Balanga, Bataan, the model farm of Pedralvez has already produced a sufficient amount of harvest, which he said amounted to as much as a small farmer’s family would need.
The project’s viability and sustainability can be achieved through the convergence of different sectors, like nongovernment organizations or the individual farmers, using
their own resources, together with determination to succeed by adopting the principles of his Business Farm Prototype.
But a governmental policy pertaining to the implementation of advocacies like the initiative of Pedralvez would further ensure its sustainability and eventual adoption in the different regions of the country.
However, the sustainability and success of the initiative as adopted by the concerned sectors should not be premised alone on the income that may be derived during the initial implementation of the project, Pedralvez explained.
It should be viewed as a whole where the intended project promotes a viable source of income, if given due attention and care.
On the marketing aspect, Pedralvez says that this will not be a problem, citing the rising demand from the community, including the local “bagsakan” centers which accommodate even small volume of harvest.
Pedralvez believes that his initiative will help the small farmers to alleviate hunger and poverty by intensifying their crop production in a sustainable manner, and will eventually hone their managerial and negotiating skills to market their produce.
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s August 2018 issue.