The Future In A Grain
THE Primer Farm School (PFS) will open on June 15 in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija, with a simple aim: Let us export rice in three years. If this appears to be too ambitious, let us make it in four. In between the horrendous lack of rice, which also causes the price of corn grits to soar, is the attainment of rice self-sufficiency in three years.
Central to this aspiration is the Rice Profit Protocol (RPP) developed by inventor Alfonso G. Puyat and farmer Fernando Gabuyo Jr.
What is the RPP?
It is a rice methodology that allows a dramatic increase in rice yields with a minimal addition of inputs (slightly less than P2,000) to the regular expenses now incurred in the production in irrigated rice fields.
It may be used on all rice varieties, although results will differ according to rice-variety potential. These high yields are sustainable and require just the same amount of fertilizer as the regular rice-growing practice.
The protocol involves three processes and their special inputs:
1. Improve soil texture and productivity by the on-site rapid production of organic fertilizer from the unburn plant residues, old roots and dry straw through the application of Philor Xemas probiotic degrader.
2.Boost the plant’s productivity by foliar application of Philo ANAA, a plant-growth promotant and vitamin solution together with chelated secondary and microelements that immediately increase the plant’s overall growth rate, and its rate of utilizing externally supplied plant-growth inputs.
3.Apply Philor X-R-C inputs-soluble silicon to reinforce plant structure to minimize lodging. Additionally, the protocol requires the practice of a 10-day cycle of intermittent irrigation after the first week of rice-seedling transplant.
Gabuyo, a marine engineering graduate, served on an interisland ship before turning full-time farmer. He has had a number of awards as a farmer.
Puyat, son of the late Senate President Gil Puyat, graduated with a business administration degree at the University of the Philippines. He took up his MBA at Wharton, and later became a bank and insurance executive. But agricultural and scientific research has been his passion since his collegiate days, aside from photography.
What drew Puyat’s attention to Gabuyo was the latter’s winning one of the top prizes in the Bigante Higanteng Ani Award given by Bayer Crop Science.
Gabuyo, with a harvest of 221 cavans per hectare, was second only to Eulogio Guira of Davao del Sur with 227.
Through San Jose City agriculturist Rogelio Malunay, a link was made between the inventor and the farmer.
In the 2005 dry-season planting, Gabuyo, using Puyat’s inputs and methodology, harvested 337 cavans per hectare, 100 more than the Mindanao champion. There was a successive increase in yields: 346 in 2006, 354 in 2007.
In 2006 this writer suggested to Puyat and Gabuyo organizing a training outfit or a school so that the RPP could be spread nationwide. If a sizeable number of farmers adopting the RPP could be documented, dissemination would be faster.
Planting rice never fun
Planting rice is never fun, according to a song learned in grade school. But a tinge of romance can still be attached to it.
In April 2006 there was moonlight, no roses, but a plenitude of rice sheaves. From late afternoon and then the fall of evening up to daybreak, when the moonlight spread like a pale yellow carpet on Gabuyo’s field, I helped pile the rice sheaves for the threshing preparatory to the measuring and weighing to be made in the afternoon of the following day.
Extra hands are hired in Nueva Ecija during the peak of harvest. The same held true, was truer in Gabuyo’s field.
The hired hands knew there was a scheduled measuring and weighing. Haggling for higher wages, they started work late in the morning, rested before noon, resumed work past 2 in the afternoon.
Every hand was needed to help pile the sheaves. All of us were tinted with moonlight and, resting to the sound of irrigation water, I thought of a training outfit or school. No name came to mind. Primer only settled, like a homing butterfly, this April. Primer would be an appropriate name and it was the title of my column in the Philippine Collegian many years ago.
It was the recent rice crisis and the threat of traditional rice exporters not to sell rice to the Philippines—softening only after we agreed to buy rice at almost four times the regular price—that prompted the decision to push through with the school.
From Misamis Oriental, where I joined the Higaonons from the provinces of Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon in their Domalondong, or tribal gathering, to Cebu, where our members of the Toledo Green Coconut Farmers Association covering the cities of Toledo and Naga and the municipalities of Pinamungahan, Aloguinsan,Barili, Balamban, Asturias and Tuburan are into coconut replanting and intercropping (initially cacao), I proceeded to Puyat’s house in Forbes Park.
We agreed, difficulties, limitations and all, that it was time for us to shed our anxieties and push through with the school.
Puyat and I drove to San Jose City, passing a cornfield in Pampanga where the corn with the Puyat input was revealing more ears. We talked to Gabuyo and his wife Erlinda. The consensus was that it was time to do away with our trepidations. No one could be more daunted by the task than we are.
The three of us met with Councilor Resty Domingo, chairman of the agriculture committee of the city council, and OIC city agriculturist Amarillo. They said if we were that determined, we have the blessings of Mayor Marivic Violago Belena.
The format of the school is very simple. The farmer-trainees will work hands-on in Gabuyo’s farm and the farms of his farmer-neighbors who have adopted the RPP. This will be for a full planting season (four months) beginning June 15, with 30 to 60 participants. There will be another set for the dry-planting season.
To maximize their four-month stay, the farmer-trainees will be taught vegetable gardening. Gabuyo, using East West seeds technology, the usual fertilizer and Puyat’s input, is earning P100,000 per season from his 600-sq-m lot near his rice field.
They will be taught freshwater-fish culture.
San Jose City is near Muñoz. They will be introduced to the Philippine Carabao Center and the Small Ruminant Department of the Central Luzon State University.
The main focus is rice, but it will not harm to make of each farmer-trainee a compleat farmer.
The Primer Farm School plans to organize a “300 Club” for those harvesting 300 cavans/hectare and above; and a “200 Club” for those harvesting 200 cavans/hectare but below 300.
In the municipality of Santo Domingo, which is near San Jose City, one prized farmer this April harvested 260 cavans/hectare, from 246 last year. Another harvested 237, from 215 last year. If there was a link and they had adopted the RPP, they would be prime candidates for the 300 Club.
The Primer Farm School has invited a number of first-termers in the House of Representatives, especially those with constituents with irrigated rice fields to help end the anxieties about the rice crisis by sending one or two farmer-trainees to the PFS on June 15.
It’s a small step for a big dream, but knowing that the alternative—widespread hunger and unrest—is beyond contemplation might be just enough to push the effort to reality.
*Mr. Osorio has been a development advocate-cum-social scientist for nearly four decades, tirelessly advocating the mix of policy, technology and people empowerment to help communities hurdle natural and man-made barriers and attain prosperity, in all the communities that his peripatetic mission has taken him—from Central Luzon farmers fighting drought, to upland former kaingeros, to seaweed gatherers among the Badjaos opening their bank accounts for the first time. For feedback, he may be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.