More often than not, it is the government that local farmers turn to for help. But it was a very different tone, set by organic farmers in Region 8, when I, together with other bloggers, visited their farms during a tour conducted by the Agricultural Technological Institute.
The OMRO or the Organikong Magsasaka ng Rehiyon Otso is setting a high bar as they move around to farms in the region to uplift their fellow farmers’ plight with their version of the usual “Lakbay Aral” to “Lakbay Alay” or OMRO’s K.I.T.S. Journey (Knowledge, Inputs, Technology Sharing).
KITS Journey shares farm tools, seeds, seedlings, forage cuttings, organic fertilizer and anything that will benefit the receiving farmers.
OMRO, a group of organic farmers in the region, pulled up their sleeves, not just on the fields, but also on the idea of changing agriculture for theme and fellow farmers. Wherein, instead of them waiting for help, they allowed themselves to be conduits of assistance to other farmers.
Mike Pedroso, as a member of OMRO, became the host and venue of the seminar for nearby farmers. OMRO brought together a pool of experienced resource people who are farmer-experts that can relate and answer any question or problem that attendees asked.
At first, I was anxious on how will the OMRO resource farmers answer the questions like:
- how the farmers can plant rice in a field lacking water? or mostly depend on rain water?
- how to control soil pests -“snails” from their farms?
But, after hearing the answers from the OMRO farmer-experts, it made clearer for the attendees to take another look into farming, and this time better.
First, is going organic. Second is using natural methods to address any farm issues.
Like in the case of lacking water for farms, solution is to plant seedlings that require less of water to grow, yet still being productive.
While a farmer-expert said to use “snails” to weed out unwanted plants growing in the field before you plant your actual crops and then get them out of the fields to be fed to fowls.
These are just some solutions that OMRO farmer-experts give attendees to make sure that they look at the farm problems differently and make a solution naturally without expecting to spend so much and be drowned in credit or be in a slump waiting for that big help from government or NGOs for money.
OMRO is a good example on how farmers, the established and successful ones, can help other struggling farmers to strengthen organic farming in the country by sharing knowledge and resources.
I feel blessed being a witness to the action of the group and one of the first people to see them in their formal launch in Tacloban City in fronf of Leyte Governor Mic Petilla, along key people in the province.
I just hope that Filipino farmers, in other regions, will have the tenacity and the heart to do the same. As such work by OMRO, led by their president Olegario Paredes, Jr., and the rest of the team, is by far a gallant and noble act indeed. I hope as well that this is a wake-up call for local and national government to take better lead and assistance to organic farmers who are really working hard to produce safe and healthy produce for all of us.
Aside from helping fellow farmers to solve farm problems, they also combine all their produce to market them collectively.
Another noteworthy idea that these guys do, is that they oblige each member to allot 10 percent of their property solely for planting trees. This way, they help in reforestation to counter the effects of global warming. They even had us, bloggers, join them in their tree-growing campaign.
OMRO members definitely have their way of standing up against adversity. Showing how each farmer took the challenges after being stricken severely by typhoons.
I have my high hopes on this group that that no matter what happens, if OMRO continues to move on its direction, Region 8 organic agriculture has a bright and prosperous years ahead of them.
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