Agriculture is a continuously evolving aspect of humanity, as there is a need to keep up with the changes of the earth while also producing inputs that can boost yields for farmers.
The reality is, sometimes farming can get expensive. But wanting a good harvest shouldn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money to guarantee that. Sometimes, it just takes an innovative farming system to yield results.
Carlu Alfonso Realiza, owner of Carlu’s Nature Integrated Farm, is a unique and interesting person in many ways. For one thing, his name Carlu is definitely not a typo, but is a combination of his beloved grandparents’ names Cardo and Lucia.
Another is that he’s a night-shift type of farmer as he chooses to work on his farmland at the wee hours of night.
And, lastly, he practices JADAM, an organic method of farming that is said to be the “ultra low-cost” method of farming.
JADAM is a South Korean method of organic farming initiated by Youngsang Cho in 1991. Youngsang Cho’s goal was to create a method of organic farming that is “ultra low cost” by equipping any ordinary farmer with the knowledge to create ‘do-it-yourself’ (DIY) organic pesticides and farm inputs that are inexpensive.
JADAM allows farmers to go environmentally-friendly at a low cost. Additionally, JADAM’s system of farming aims to essentially mimic nature, which is why JADAM means “People that resemble nature.”
After five years of traditional farming, Realiza was enlightened by the practices of JADAM through a seminar in Cebu in 2017 and 2018. He was immediately convinced. “I choose JADAM because it’s scientific,” Realiza said. “JADAM has both [scientific] papers and science.”
Realiza is an agriculturist and a technician by profession, so it was natural that he was interested in a farming method with a scientific approach. He started JADAM farming in 2019.
Since starting JADAM, Realiza has never looked back. He has, however, continued to innovate what he can in order to improve his 4000 sqm farm. His first interview for the magazine came out in 2020, and since then he has been proud of the improvements he made, such as expanding his plots and improving his inputs.
He initially called his farm Carlu’s Nature Farm, but had it registered as Carlu’s Nature Integrated Farm as it was the name available. Despite having no livestock or animals, his farm is considered an integrated farm as he practices intercropping.
The man for JADAM
JADAM isn’t a secret. In fact, JADAM has tens of thousands of farmers employing its practices in the world. However, in the Philippines, there aren’t a lot of people who practice JADAM, much less know about it.
Realiza was trained in JADAM by attending a seminar held by the president and founder himself, Youngsang Cho. However, that kind of opportunity won’t always come by, so Realiza has taken it upon himself to teach others about the advantages of JADAM.
Realiza became a key person who could talk about JADAM in the Philippine setting. He has already spoken in several seminars, and a recent one was at the Gulayan sa Paaralan, a program initiated by the Department of Education and partnered with the Department of Agriculture.
“It was a free seminar introduction to JADAM. But it was three days worth of information I had to compile in one hour,” Realiza said with a laugh.
As one who has practiced JADAM for years, Realiza wanted to spread the word that aside from being a low-cost approach to organic farming, JADAM grown crops are more nutritious than any other crop in the market.
Realiza shifted from traditional farming to JADAM due to his worry of synthetic products not only harming his farmland, but also the possibility of it harming his own health. So the organic DIY pesticides and methods of JADAM made his crops turn out better and made him healthier.
“I always say, whatever is in your soil is also a reflection of you,” he said.
Realiza’s farm has a wide assortment of crops. He has lanzones, guyabano, ampalaya, eggplants, papaya, fruit trees, and more.
But his best crop is the Persian cucumber.
Persian cucumbers are narrower, less watery, and have less seeds than a regular cucumber, and Realiza utilizes a large part of his farmland for this crop.
Like all his crops, his Persian cucumber is JADAM grown, and has become a big hit to his community. Locals who had a taste of his cucumbers had always become return customers, and Realiza enthusiastically catered to them.
“I sell the cucumbers at P150 to P280 a kilo, and bring them to my clients themselves,” said Realiza as he showed two large and colorful bags he used to carry them. “They’re always sold out.”
While Realiza loves farming, he has come to enjoy selling and marketing his crops, too. “It’s because you meet other people with the same [healthy] advocacies,” he said. “When I sell them, I always say, ‘Hey! That’s JADAM!”
Going by his decision to pursue JADAM, it can be said that Realiza isn’t a man who limits himself to conventional methods.
Throughout his farming journey, he has heard people say that some things can’t be done. “I want to prove that they are wrong. That’s why I consider myself an innovator,” he said.
Realiza is very fond of experimenting, especially with new products he finds on the market or new knowledge he comes across from different sources. He fully supports other farmers who want to explore and innovate just as he does, and he encourages others to follow suit.
“Be resourceful and be a businessman in this kind of agribusiness,” he said. “Be an innovator like me and never stop learning from seminars and schools.”
He also encourages farmers to adapt to globalization, and to learn to collaborate with others. “We should collaborate rather than clash with each other because there will not be me [here] without you,” said Realiza.
Realiza’s adoption of JADAM, another country’s organic methods, and incorporating it into ours is a mark of innovation, and, thankfully, the results of his decision have shown to be fruitful and positive for both his farming journey and agribusiness.
His path is a call to action for more farmers to explore and find the best farm method that works for them, and for the sake of the planet, may it be organic and environmentally-friendly like JADAM.
Photos courtesy of Carlu Alfonso Realiza