Small is big, especially when it comes to farming.

By Julio P. Yap, Jr.

Based on current trends, the farm sizes for every farmer are getting smaller due to land conversion for other purposes, plus the division of estates by the heirs of older farmers. However, many farmers think they can only become successful in farming if they have a bigger farmland.

If these two situations continue to prevail, many small farming families will eventually abandon farming and in the long run, be forced to sell their farmlands. This scenario might compromise the local food supply in the very near future.

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Urban Farming Approach

Taking into consideration the problems that hound many farming communities, Reynic S. Alo of RVN Farms and executive director of the Federation of Multi-Sectoral Alliance for Development in Bacolod City decided to venture into small-scale farming.

During the later part of 2014, he transformed a piece of land in Villa Emmanuel, Barangay Blumentritt, Murcia, Negros Occidental, measuring about 1,750 square meters, into a small farm.

Alo said this could provide potential farmers with hands-on experience in the small farming business, and eventually be used to develop a profitable model which can be replicated by other farmers.

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Adoptability

He called his farming system the “Diversified, Regenerative, and Intensive-farming Ventures for Economic and Environment-Upliftment” or DRIVE-Up for short.

Also says he practices regenerative technologies at his small farm, like applying organic and mineral elements which can rejuvenate soil fertility while restoring the microbial activities of the soil. He is also adopting other farming techniques like using an improvised greenhouse, a drip irrigation system, and doing container gardening using sacks, plastic bags, and halved soda and water bottles.

At present, Alo’s farm is planted with different kinds and varieties of vegetables like lettuce, bell pepper, alugbati or vine spinach, upland kangkong, ginger, and passion fruit.

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Employment Opportunity

His small farm also generated employment opportunities as he tapped a farmer family to take care of his venture. Alo hired Enrique Hawtia Jr. for this purpose and provided a modest shelter for Hawtia’s family right inside the farm. Most of the crops being harvested regularly from Alo’s compact but prolific farm are purchased by buyers from Bacolod City, while the alugbati and kangkong are bought by several vendors from the nearby public market.

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Reynic Alo with his fruiting bell peppers.

Positive Outlook

After a year of operations, Also said the income generated from the small farming venture is at the “break even” level. But with gradual development, and after the other plants and trees have fruited, he hopes to realize his projected income of Php20,000 per month in about one or two years.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s January 2016 issue.