Story and Photos by Jonathan Sandigio | Program Officer | Heifer Central Philippines
Six Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) and three program officers of Heifer Philippines attended courses on Sustainable Pig Farming and On-Farm Production of Beneficial Micro-organisms, held at the Agricultural Training Institute-International Training Center for Pig Husbandry (ATI-ITCPH) in Lipa City, Batangas Province, on March 18-22, 2013. Other participants came from private and business sectors engaged in the swine industry.
The course on Sustainable Pig Farming tackled the Philippine Organic Act and threats on sustainable agriculture, and provided some practical guides to organic pig farming. The On-Farm Production of Beneficial Microorganisms course focused on the importance and benefits of probiotics for humans and animals. Participants learned how to produce and use Lactic Acid Bacteria Serum (LABS). Each course included classroom teaching and a field trip to an organic farm.
During the graduation program, participants shared impressions on the courses. Luzvisminda Sinagan, RISE Project participant and 2012 Golden Talent Award (GTA) winner, said organic farming had already been introduced to them by the Department of Agriculture (DA), but they focused on producing organically grown rice. The DA provided support in marketing their produce.
I can see some difficulty in marketing organic pigs at the start, but nothing is impossible if we start with ourselves," Sinagan said. "We can easily encourage others if they can see that we are practicing what we are advocating. I will do it first before persuading my neighbors to do it because of the long-term advantages it can bring to us.
Gerry Tabugon, a CAHW of Heifer's DISOP Project, and Ronald Cardines, a CAHW of Heifer's IGOROTA Project and 2011 GTA award winner, talked about the lessons learned from the field visits on housing, feeding, rearing options, health care, and pig management and transport. We were able to gain more knowledge from the visit to the farms practicing organic farming," Tabugon said. "We will prepare an action plan so that we will be guided in applying these technologies in our respective farms and, of course, a plan to pass on the knowledge with other Heifer families.
Jonathan Sandigio, program officer from Heifer Central Philippines, expressed gratitude to ATI-ITCPH for the opportunity and partnership in serving the smallholder farmers. He shared the relevance of the courses in attaining Heifers mission of ending hunger and poverty and caring for the Earth.
Participating CAHWs came from the communities of Heifer's DISOP (International Cooperation on Development Projects) projects in Leyte and Southern Leyte; the Protecting and Enhancing the Environment and Natural Resources for Community Resilience (PEER) project in Barcelona municipality, Sorsogon province; the Resource-based Integrated Social Enterprise for Sustainable Development (RISE) project in Sta. Josefa, Agusan del Sur; and the Pro-Active and Resilient Organization for Economic Sustainability and Self Reliance (PROGRESS) project in Sabangan, Mountain Province. The program officers represented each of the regional program offices of Heifer Philippines.
ATI-ITCPH is the only training institute in Asia specializing in pig husbandry. ITCPH is part of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) of the Department of Agriculture. ATI and Heifer Philippines have entered into a Memorandum of Agreement to support each other in serving smallholder farmers in the Philippines. Participation of the CAHWs and program officers in ATI courses was an actualization of the entities commitment to support each others programs and services.