An Outstanding Lady Integrated Farmer of Dingle, Iloilo

Mrs. Lea Deala, of Barangay Tinocuan, Dingle, Iloilo. Photo from RMN Iloilo facebook page.
Mrs. Lea Deala, of Barangay Tinocuan, Dingle, Iloilo. Photo from RMN Iloilo facebook page.

Mrs. Lea Deala, of Barangay Tinocuan, Dingle, Iloilo never expected that the common passion for farming that she shared with her husband will be rewarded with the recognition of being the outstanding woman farmer of Region VI by the Department of Agriculture. Now their farm has all the components or features that made it win the 2016 award: crops, livestock, fish and vegetables. Initially only about 1.7 hectares, she expanded when her aging relative sold to her the adjacent lot of about 1.3 hectares making her farm about 3.0 hectares in all.

The farm has the ideal topographic features that one can wish for in an integrated farm: an undulating slope ideal as pasture area for cattle and carabao as well as home lot , piggery, other livestock and poultry area. A sink between two hills which was already a rainfed rice farm was further converted into a rice farm-cum-fishpond. At the base of the long slope on the Southwest portion and the top most portion of the sink, they built a water catchment cum catfish pond where over-aged catfish are grown for the family’s enjoyment. The water harvesting pond also serves to irrigate the lower rice fields and the vegetables they are growing year-round. They built the first water impounding or harvester while government gave them a grant for the second. So they are able to plant rice at least twice a year  and also grow fish in certain portions of the rice farm.

In all, the integrated farm produces improved native chickens, goats, cattle and carabao (as work animal), pigs- both improved breeds and native strains, vegetables, dragon fruit and corn mainly as feed for the chickens. Lea also kept a flock of pure strain of “darag” chickens isolated from the rest of her other flock of chickens so that she can infuse the strain to her flock of mixed strains from time to time. The large flock of chickens grown for the market has an adequate house where the manure is gathered regularly and turned into organic fertilizer for all her plants.

The slope which is fenced with barbed wire holds the several heads of cattle being fattened on improved mixed grass and legume pasture. Almost near the boundaries or distanced about one meter from the fence line is the stand of “sengon” trees otherwise known in Mindanao as falcata or paper tree (Albizia falcataria), a fast-growing multipurpose legume tree whose leaves look very much like ipil-ipil. Sengon is the Indonesian name for falcata. Lea’s husband got the seeds during his travel to that country as engineer consultant and established the trees both as source of light lumber and as feed for their growing population of cattle, carabao and goats.

Lea raises both the improved breeds of pigs and the native strains which she got from the neighboring province of Antique. The native pigs are slow growing but their big advantage is that they fed on leftovers and on the grasses and legume plants fed to them. Tricantera also known as “madre de agua” is a favorite fodder of the native pigs. The said plant is high in protein although it is not a legume. But when fresh feed is scare, native pigs will also feed on banana stalks and other edible plants so their feed needs can be sourced right at the farm.