• Pampanga college pushing low-input agri

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    THE Pampanga Agricultural College (PAC) has successfully demonstrated the viability of organic or low-chemical farming through its Alternative Low-Input Agriculture Systems (ALIAS) Center, which has trained nearly 2,700 people in the last four years.

    Documents provided to The Manila Times by PAC showed the ALIAS Center has five components that showcase the viability of low-input agriculture: use of bio-fertilizers and plant-based pesticides in managing insect pests and diseases in farms; lotus-tilapia integration; honeybee as pollinators to enhance productivity of farms; adlai as intercrop; and native chicken-coffee integration.

    PAC president Dr. Honorio Soriano Jr. said the ALIAS Center was created in 2010 to encourage farmers to use less chemicals and to protect public health, and to show that low-chemical farming can have the same production level as conventional farming.

    “Humans are exposed to these pesticides daily through several different routes, including food, drinking water and beverages, air and dust, surfaces inside homes and workplaces, and in public places,” he said.

    PAC documents showed using bio-fertilizers and plant-based pesticides was successful in controlling pests and diseases, and even enhanced plant growth. Meanwhile, tilapia farms that have lotus plants had cleaner water. This measure helped improve the taste of harvested tilapia.

    Another component showcased at the ALIAS Center is using bees as pollinators which helped stabilize the production of vegetables and fruits. Also, the use of honeybees as pollinators resulted to additional income generated from the sale of honey and other bee-based products. PAC is now looking to the production of other bee-based products like scented candles, soap, ointment, and lip balm.

    The fourth component is using adlai as intercrop to organic vegetables and fruit crops in support to rice sufficiency. PAC discovered that adlai as an intercrop can produce an additional P18,000 to P21,000 in income per hectare. Adlai, which is eaten like rice, can also used to feed native chickens.

    For the component integrating coffee farming with native chicken raising, the chickens reached a final weight of 1.2 kilograms in six months, which is comparable to raising native chickens in the backyard raising system.

    Soriano said that in the past four years since the start of its operation, the ALIAS Center served 2,696 individuals through trainings, hands-on demonstrations, orientations and seminars.

    Also, about P1.451 million in revenues was generated in 2013-2014 from all the components under the project. PAC is located in Magalang, Pampanga and occupies nearly 700 hectares of agricultural lands.

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