By Julio P. Yap Jr.

The native pig industry in the Philippines has a vast potential that needs to be explored in order to generate business prospects and provide opportunities for small players.

With this in mind, Maximillan B. Cabriga established the Teofely Nature Farm in Silang, Cavite, which came to be known as a government-accredited farm school for raising native pigs and cultivating organically grown vegetables, fruits, and herbs.

The Teofely Nature Farm in Silang, Cavite is a government-accredited farm school for raising native pigs, and organically grown vegetables, fruits, and herbs.

Cabriga says the demand for native pig’s meat has been constantly surging, but local supplies remained low, thus the need to address the deficiency. That is why he established the farm school to train would-be native pig raisers, including enthusiasts who maintain native pigs in their backyards.

To boost the production of native pigs, Cabriga said there is a need to know more about the industry through the school, which could also provide bright prospects for local entrepreneurs.

Good accreditation

The farm school at the Teofely Nature Farm has been accredited by the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI), and is soon to gain accreditation from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Cabriga’s unique farm school also conducts training sessions and seminars on organically grown fruits and vegetables.

Cabriga, who is also the organizer and president of the Philippine Native Pig Owners Network Association, Inc. (PNPONAI), says that contrary to the belief that raising native pig is not sustainable compared to raising hybrid pigs, native pigs can sell for a much higher price than commercially raised hybrid swine. “That is why I am sharing the experiences which I gained from the operation of my farm [with] enthusiasts and native pig raisers so they can improve their production.”

He is encouraging those who are interested to raise native pigs to learn how to adopt “natural farming protocols” to be their standard in breeding, managing, feeding, housing, and caring for their native pigs.

A Venue For Learning

Even Senator Cynthia A. Villar has been advocating for the creation of farm tourism camps or farm schools all over the country to serve as venues of learning for farmers.

Maximillan B. Cabriga poses at the entrance of the lecture room at Teofely Nature Farm.

In fact, Sen. Villar said, under Section 11 of Republic Act 10816 or the Farm Tourism Act which she authored, the DA and the Department of Tourism (DOT) are tasked to lead in the establishment of at least one farm tourism camp in every province in the country. “[As the Philippines is] an agricultural country, it will be easy to find a farm and to develop a farm school [in each province],” she said.

“With the accessibility of farm schools, farming becomes more attractive, and [is considered by those interested to be] a good source of income, as participants—students, farmers, women—are taught new, modern techniques of farm production that gives good returns and a sense of satisfaction, making farming a respectable [alternative] to moving to cities where jobs are hard to find,” Sen. Villar added. “I believe continuing education and training is the key.”

Based on studies, among the barriers which keep the Filipino farmers from becoming more successful are the lack of technical expertise, inadequate access to socialized credit, lack of mechanization, and lack of financial literacy or business sense. “We need to focus on removing those barriers,” Sen. Villar said.

Breaking Barriers

Cabriga says that in order to help remove one of these barriers, he formed the farm school in an effort to help in the conservation and development of the native pig breeds and for the growth of the Philippine native pig industry.

His farm school now offers seminars which are designed to respond to the increasing demand for native pig meat. Likewise, the school works to equip native pig raisers with the proper knowledge on how to produce safe food, in an effort to contribute to the swine industry in the country.

Among the topics to be discussed in the seminars are the transfer of concepts and ideas to the participants, such as how to develop their own “lechon” products; value-adding; food safety; and how to become agripreneurs.

The school’s course outline includes the history of lechon; salient provisions of RA 8485; general hygiene rules; choosing the right native pig for preparing lechon; basic equipment and ingredients for cooking lechon; and how to cook a perfect lechon.

Encouraging Sustainable Agriculture

Aside from native pig raising, Cabriga’s unique farm school also conducts training sessions and seminars on organically grown fruits and vegetables, which include the basics of urban agriculture, seed preparation, plant propagation, sustainable cropping, garden management, and proper harvesting.

Urban agriculture refers to the practice of cultivating, processing, and distribution of food in or around a village, a town, or a city, and includes animal husbandry, aquaculture, agro-forestry, and horticulture.

Cabriga in front of the area where native chickens are raised.

Aside from the farm school which is complete with lodging facilities, an administration office, greenhouses, and other amenities, the Teofely Nature Farm is also a unique farm tourism destination, which is now planted with different kinds and varieties of vegetables, herbs, fruit-bearing trees, and exotic fruit trees.

Currently, in addition to the Teofely Nature Farm, Cabriga and his wife Ana now operate the Teofely Gardens and Wedding Events venue in Silang.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s March 2018 issue.