The 19th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army is doing something out of the box. It is fighting poverty to eliminate insurgency.
Just before the Holy Week, the 19th IB conducted a one-day training on organic farming at its base camp at Barangay Aguiting, Kananga, Leyte.
Lt. Col. Nedy Espulgar, commanding officer of the 19th Infantry Battalion said the training was participated in by some 55 members of the Libertad Farmers Association.
The Libertad Farmers Association , according to Lt. Col. Espulgar, was the first communist-inspired farmers group in Kananga, Leyte organized way back in 1992.
The New People’s Army established the group purposely to intensify the influence of the communist rebels in all of the 23 barangays of the said town. The group was disintegrated when its key leaders surrendered to 19IB in 2006.
The training was part of the military’s continuing support to established people’s organizations in selected towns in Leyte, which aimed at uplifting the lives of its members.
During said training, the participants learned how to make various types of “contusions”. These are organic extracts made out of plants and other indigenous materials which may be used as plant growth enhancer, pesticide and soil conditioner. Contusions are made up of bacteria created through fermentation process and can also enhance the fertility of the planting area.
While contusions enhance plant growth, land preparation according to lecturer Mayang dela Cruz, is also equally important and is one the fundamental requirements in organic farming method. In organic farming, “double-dig” method is highly recommended when preparing the “plant beds” as it prevent plant roots from stress and improves retention of nutrients needed by plants for several years.
All these organic farming methods and technologies were stirred by Mr. Gil Carandang, the Father of Philippine Organic Farming who mentored the 19IB and its clienteles during the series of workshops on “Sustainable Integrated Organic and Natural Mini Farm Program” sponsored by the Land Bank of the Philippines.
Lt. Col. Espulgar said the military will continue to train and provide available support to all of its established people’s organizations in Leyte. 19IB is also engaging government agencies, Non-Government Organizations and even the private sectors in order to address the needs of its established people’s organizations that away from the communist ideologies.
As of now, the military is supporting 10 people’s organizations namely: Taglawigan Farmers Association, Taglawigan Fisher Folks Association and Catoogan Farmers Association in San Isidro, Leyte; Cabatoan Farmers Association, Airport Farmers Association, Jubay Farmers Association and Sorosimbahan Farmers Association in Calubian, Leyte; Rubas Farm Producers Association and Rubas Farmers and Tourism Developers Association in Jaro, Leyte and Libertad Farmers Association in Kananga, Leyte.
The training was also graced by Hon. Elmer Codilla, the Municipal Mayor of Kananga, Leyte who pledged support to the constituents of Brgy. Libertad; and Mr. Troy Bumagat, proprietor of the Trophy Farm in Kananga, Leyte who also distributed 80 kilograms of organic rice seeds to the association.
The said seeds were accordingly provided by the regional office of the Department of Agriculture. Mr. Bumagat will also be giving high yielding variety of corn seeds to the same farmers association.