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“Integrated Natural Farming is my Business”

Established agripreneur Ramon Dayrit Peñalosa, Jr. of Negros Occidental practices integrated natural farming business in Victorias City, Manapla, Sagay City and Don Salvador Benedicto, all in the sugar-producing province of Negros Occidental.

Probiotics-based swine production is the anchor project of the family-owned Peñalosa Farms. Pork as well as chicken meat and eggs, and certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and other crops supply Monchito’s Meat Shoppe and Green Grocer at SM Supermarket in Bacolod City.

From a swamp where mechanics dumped trash over a decade ago, Peñalosa Farms has become a prominent fixture in the Negros agricultural landscape. 

Why and how Peñalosa, a Magsasaka-Siyentista (farmer-scientist) of the Farmers’ Information and Technology Services (FITS) Center of Negros Occidental, ventured into organic farming and stuck to it like glue is an interesting story he shared at the 1st Regional Techno Gabay Summit and TechnoMart in Iloilo City.

Integrated Natural Farming is my Business

Peñalosa and Ms. Earth beauties hold processed farm products.

Fellow farmer-scientists, agripreneurs, technology specialists, marketing experts, and staff of the Farmers’ Information and Technology Services (FITS) Centers took part in the two-day TechnoMart organized by the Western Visayas Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (WESVARRDEC) in collaboration with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCARRD-DOST).

At the Summit’s Techno Forum, “Mon,” as he enjoys being called, defined “Organic Farming” as the use of agricultural practices with a lot of ‘maka’ such as: maka-tao (people-friendly); maka-kalikasan (environment and wildlife-friendly); maka-lupa (pro-soil); maka-kalusugan (pro-health); maka-kinabukasan (pro-future); maka-bulsa (pro-pocket); and maka-Diyos (pro-God) through inputs, systems, and processes that are measurable, verifiable and certifiable. ‘Maka’ is a Hiligaynon prefix that usually means “for”.

“Business” for him means the art and science of providing a product or service through the creative application of business and management functions to achieve one’s vision and purpose. “It should not be a ‘rapist’ of Mother Nature,” he said. 

To be a good agripreneur, Mon follows the ‘Business Tree’ that includes production, marketing, finance, organization, and management. To be a better agripreneur, he uses the ‘Agripreneur’s Toolbox’. “My tools include the Language of the Soil, Language of the Plants, Language of the Animals, and Art of War against pests and diseases,” he said.

“Mr. Organic”, the moniker he earned for his advocacy, also presented business opportunities under the concept of “Farm to Market, Farm to Kitchen, and Farm to Plate”, with the latter being very important because it is in this stage that he earns triple.

Mon admitted that the venture was no easy task. As the first president of the Organik Na Negros Producers and Retailers Association (ONOPRA), he talked on the humble beginnings of the Organik Na Negros Market at the back of the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City.

Integrated Natural Farming is my Business

“In 2006, we started to sell organic products on weekends. Now, we have an everyday market. People come to eat at the Organic Food Court. The facility improved, so are the organic producers, some stayed, others transferred to supermarkets,” he said.

“The point here is we group ourselves to make our presence felt,” he added.

Integrated Natural Farming is my Business

Mon said a good venture for swine farmers going commercial is to set up their own feed mill and formulate their own feeds using available and indigenous materials like corn bran. “If I produce my own probiotic feeds, I pay for only half the price of every kilo of feed per pig per day. That’s a lot of savings when the cost of commercial feeds is P25 per kilo,” he said.

To penetrate big markets, Mon encouraged backyard swine raisers to form a cluster. “Buyers buy in canter-size,” he said, when he meant one truck could fill 30 heads of pigs. “Profit could be as much as P1,000 per day per pig,” he added, emphasizing that farmers as producers should benefit more than the middlemen.

For two consecutive years, Peñalosa Farms has become an important producer of organic-certified vegetables and crops, and the top agri-tourism destination in Negros Occidental. No wonder, Mon, an organic guru and pillar of organic farming in Negros Island and Western Visayas, remains an asset of WESVARRDEC. (vishia tolcidas-WESVARRDEC Regional Applied Communications)