Culion, Palawan — For Culion-based vegetables farmer Danny “Bong” Cabanizas, 35, the shift from countless years of conventional farming using harmful chemicals to natural and bio-dynamic organic farming was a major life-changing revelation.

His farmland produces local vegetable fares such as tomatoes, ampalaya, sitaw, okra, talong, pechay, kalabasa, as well as cucumber. Like many farmers in the area, Danny farmed for many years using toxic fertilisers and pesticides to repel insects and encourage growth of his produce. This went on for more than a decade on his six-hectare farm located in the hinterlands of Barangay Malaking Patag in Culion.

In 2015, MFI brought its Enviro-Farming program to Culion to help shift environment-and-health-destructive practices of farmers to natural, non-toxic methods. Farmers like Danny were taught simple technologies utilising fruits and vegetable concoctions as pest repellants and fertilisers taught by the Philippines’ premier organic farming advocate Gil Carandang.

A combination of garlic and ginger extracts with surplus fruits from the farm like banana peels, easily repels pests when left hanging in strategic areas. Likewise, a farmer-formulated concoction of beneficial indigenous micro-organisms sprayed on organic materials enhances the soil’s natural nutrients needed by vegetables to grow.

Since shifting to the unique organic methods, Danny noticed an estimated 130% increase in the volume of production of his crops like ampalaya and eggplants. Moreover, the individual size of his produce more than doubled. The production life of the plants likewise became longer and the shelf-life of the vegetables once picked were prolonged, compared to conventionally-produced crops. These changes have resulted to more than 100% increase in income for farmers like Danny.

Danny is the President of Botnongan Katuldan Kabel-kebel Community Association (BOKKCAS), one of the conservation partners of Malampaya Foundation Inc. (MFI) in Culion. It is mainly composed of farmers producing vegetables, rice and fruits from the mountains of Culion.

BOKKCAS and MFI are working in partnership to encourage more farmers to shift towards natural farming methods and help progress the conservation of terrestrial and marine areas in the municipality of Culion.