BaRang-ay demofarm: a show window of agricultural practices in Ilocos Sur

By Mancielito S. Tacadena

   Photos by: Dante Tacata

  (Second of 3 parts)



Aside from mangoes, the demofarm also distributed seedlings of exotic fruit trees like rambutan, marang and longgan to the different upland municipalities. Cacao seedlings were distributed to Turod Patac, Cabugao and papaya seedlings to empanada vendors. Agro forest trees like narra and mahogany were also available inside the demofarm.

Initially, several seedlings of macadamia, a nut bearing tree which is very popular in Hawaii were also planted in BaRang-ay demofarm as there is no evidence yet that it would bear fruits in Ilocos Sur.

Another significant division in the BaRang-ay demofarm is the banana breeding station. Different varieties of banana were developed and cultured. A technology called tissue culture will soon be introduced inside the demofarm to propagate banana saplings to be distributed to families in the different barangays of the province.

Since the demofarm promotes organic farming, a facility for vermiculture was set up to serve as a representation in producing organic fertilizer through the use of African night crawler earthworms. The vermicast they gather is used to fertilize the newly sowed seeds at the demofarm’s nursery and the seedlings of the different agro forestry and fruit trees.

Carbonized rice hull is applied as soil conditioner in the demofarm to energize the seeds and seedlings a few days before planting. Where before, the staff from the BaRang-ay demo farm ask for rice hull from the rice mill owners near the demofarm, now the latter are the one delivering it. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources appreciates this development as the rice hull is no longer dumped in the river banks resulting in the contamination of the water that greatly affects fishes and other marine life.

According to Dr. Soller, initially, they had a hard time cultivating the plants in the demofarm due to water scarcity. The demofarm has only one deep well which becomes inoperational during summer. To solve this, they connected a pipe to a water source in Cabugao to irrigate the whole farm. Also, they tapped other sources of water to sustain the day to day operation of the demofarm.

With the provincial government’s objective to upgrade the farm animals in Ilocos Sur, the BaRang-ay demofarm became the breeding ground for different livestocks especially ruminants.

A new breed of calves are raised through artificial insemination. Native cattle are crossbred with the imported Brahman and Senapol cows and the male yearlings  dispersed to interested farmers’ organizations to inseminate the female cattle in their barangays.

Milk production using morrah buffalos is another major project in the demofarm. The demofarm is targetting to produce 100 milking buffalos in the span of three years to produce milk to be distributed  free to school children all over the province as part of the  provincial government’s program to eradicate malnutrition among children and to sustain the recognition of Ilocos Sur as a consistent regional outstanding winner in nutrition.

Dr. Soller said a milking buffalo can produce 10-12 liters of fresh milk everyday and upon reaching their target, the farm will have a daily production of 1,000-1,200 liters of milk.

To improve the small ruminants, the demofarm bought and raised high breed goats and sheeps which were later distributed to goat raisers. A qualified organization is given one buck to impregnate not less than 25 does.  For now, there are already seven kinds of high breed goats in the demofarm namely Kalahari, Anglo Nubian, Boer, Saanen, Toggenburg, Alpine and cross breed of different types.

Although only a few Ilocanos are encouraged to raise sheep, the demofarm is taking care of four types of sheep, namely Merino, Durfer, Black Belly and Katahden. The sheeps now number more than sixty.

(To be continued)