Making the switch to organic farming

By Roxanne Angelika S Dela Cruz | Field and Emergency Communications Specialist

NORTH COTABATO, PHILIPPINES — In the southern part of the Philippines, a farmer who grew up in a family that practiced farming using chemicals shares his journey as he switches to organic farming.

“Since I was young, I’ve always been used to synthetic farm products,” shares 59-year-old Johnny, a farmer’s association president in their community.
Before Johnny became president of their farmer’s association, he was not interested at all in the new technology of organic farming introduced to them.

“I remember Johnny was just standing and walking around the venue, seemingly uninterested in the activity at all,” shares Rosanna Alave, community mobilizer of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), a World Vision community partner in implementing a Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) project in the province.

The CSA project called Strengthening Liguasan Marsh-Based Farmers’ Resilience Towards Climate Change and Disaster Impacts on their Livelihoods in the Province of Cotabato (North Cotabato), Philippines funded by Germany’s BMZ or Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, aims to help farmers to adapt to climate change and promote food security through various farming methods and advocacy. 

Johnny’s perception of organic farming changed when World Vision and PRRM introduced it to their community. “I heard about it but I was not interested,” he admits.

He heard from other farmers that switching to organic farming would affect his harvest. “It’s really hard to convince farmers to switch to organic farming, they think it will fail,” he says.

But his curiosity grew so he gave it a try. “When I tried it, the only difference is that the inputs are really small, and the produce is healthy,” he quips.

He realized that organic farming is hard at first, but with patience, one would reap a continuous abundance of healthy harvests. “They say when you eat vegetables, your life will be prolonged. But if you eat vegetables that were produced using synthetic products, your life will shorten,” he jests.

Realizing the potential of organic farming, Johnny soon converted a portion of his rice field to an organic farming lot, where his fellow organic farmers can plant and harvest chemical-free produce.

The group is earning about Php1,500 ($26) a month from organic eggplants alone. Other vegetables in the garden include tomatoes, bitter gourds, green chili, and malabar spinach and more. These are also consumed by the members of the community garden, making them save the money they used to spend on vegetables.

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