A relatively new movement of organic rice producers is slowly getting the attention of the rice farmers and arousing the arid interests of the traditional farm workers who are bearing the brunt of severely high cost of rice production.
Joby M. Arandela the president of Zarraga Integrated Diversified Organic Farmers Association (ZIDOFA) narrated that it was in 2014 when he and fellow organic rice farming practitioners Edgar Tono and Johnny Subong started embracing System of Rice Intensification (SRI) a new way of rice farming and management that started in Madagascar in the 80’s.
SRI in its simplest term is about cutting the cost of production, teaching the farmers to manufacture their own organic fertilizer and reducing the use of water up to 50 percent during the duration of the crop period.
It uses 5 to 6 kilograms of rice seeds a hectare, practices transplanting of rice seedlings at an early age of 15 days and alternate irrigation in order to save water and utilize home-made fertilizers such as bokashi.
Arandela said that the system they are using has saved practitioners around P12 thousand pesos a hectare.
Practicing the close-loop organic value chain where the farmer association is buying the produce of its members at a price of P24 to P30 per kilo of palay, their members have started realizing the significant improvements in their earning capacity.
Around four years since the three of them introduced the new movement among their peers starting off with only 14 hectares of rice fields, they have now covered more than 30 hectares of rice plantations and have extended to the town Lambunao, Iloilo and some parts of Capiz.
Arandela believes in continuously educating the farmers thus their association have always welcomed those farmers who are willing to learn and join their movement.
To date, the core group of ZIDOFA are into the lucrative business of producing black, red and brown rice at a cost lower than the usual and traditional farming of white rice. IMT