Issue of June 2, 2019
Mt. Province

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Cordillera farmers now using modern farming technologies
by Francis B. Degay

Three farms growing vegetables and fruits through the state-of-the-art technology were visited by staff members of the Mountain Province Provincial Tourism Office in coordination with municipal tourism offices of Bauko and Cada, Mankayan, Benguet.

The technologies being practiced in these farms include the use of green houses, drip irrigation system, and hydroponics.

The farms in Guisguisa-an, Mount Data, Bauko are owned and operated separately by brothers Gabriel Calawa and Jonie Calawa, while the farm in Cada is managed by Francis Ching.

Gabriel Calawa, who owns the Green and Berries Farm, is from Pakpakitan, Kibungan, Benguet who married Andrea from Bulalakaw, Mankayan.

The Calawas had been planting highland vegetables and strawberries in an open field.

However, Gabriel related that their plants were always affected during typhoons and strong rains hence, their income was just enough to start the succeeding cropping cycle and family’s subsistence. 

Gabriel said that he was encouraged to undergo the modern agricultural technology when a certain Freddie Langpaoen, from Benguet, brought him and his family to Tagaytay City, Batangas to observe the high-tech farming approach.

Before 2007, Calawa started to procure a sloping garden, which he tills until today.

He made some leveling of the lot, fabricated GI posts, and bought plastic sheets as roofing. 

He commenced the new farming approach after he completed procurement of equipment and gadgets needed for the drip irrigation system sometime in 2007.

Every after harvest, he expands greenhouses and procured additional irrigation gadgets.

He now owns 12 tunnels of green houses, which occupy about 4,200 square meters of lot and four deep wells that supply the irrigation requirement of his farm.

He also uses mini hand tractors to till the lots and mini loader to level sloping areas. 

The drip irrigation system is propelled by electricity, with centralized valves and pipes that are connected to smaller tubing and emitters. 

He said his family plants on a staggered basis so that the vegetable and fruit supplies of his market outlets in Baguio City and La Trinidad are sustained.

He currently plants strawberries and romaine lettuce. Romaine is popularly used as salad and garnish for burgers.

During the initial stage of his project, a company based in Manila contracted Gabriel as the buyer, but he withdrew from the deal because the payments made by the company became irregular.

A few meters away from Gabriel’s farm is the Green Salad Farm owned by his brother Jonie. The greenhouses are presently planted with romaine and green ice lettuce, kale (leaf cabbage), spinach, and celery. Jonie is employing the same agricultural technology as his brother Gabriel. 

Another farm visited was the John Josh Strawberry Farm, owned and operated by Francis Ching, located at Cada, above Barangay Sinto, Bauko. 

According to a Luciano Calavera III, an aide of Ching, they started planting strawberry, cabbage, and potato in a 1,000 sq. m. greenhouse in the mid-‘90s.

He stopped planting strawberry when mites wiped out his plantation.

Ching has three hectares all covered with greenhouses.

These are planted with romaine and iceberg lettuce, cabbage and strawberries.

He uses hydroponics and ground soil methods of production.

The three farms employ workers mostly from the lowlands. 

Drip irrigation technique originated in Israel way back in 1965.

Hydroponics, on the other hand, is a method of growing plants by using mineral nutrient solution in a water solvent instead of soil. It is one of the oldest agricultural technologies dating back when hanging gardens of Babylon and floating gardens of China started.

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