NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
The opportunity of visiting India came to Dr. Eriberto D. Salang, Dean of the WMSU College of Agriculture, and a proponent of Bhoochetana Pilot Program in Zamboanga Peninsula after he was invited by the International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). ICRIS AT is a United Nation Agency that undergoes researches on plant production on areas with little water in it. Dr. Salang was one of the 12 representatives of the Philippine team to see how
Bhoochetana (soil rejuvenation)practices were implemented by government agencies and adopted by farmers of the states of Karnataka and Adhra Pradesh of India. India has 28 states and the foods produced by farmers for its 1.2 billion population are sufficient to sustain. Karnataka is a model state for farming where Bhoochetana has originated and Andra Pradesh is where ICRISAT is situated. The scientific visit was financed by ICRISAT with US $ 2,300.00 each budget purposely to have an interactions with ICRISAT scientists and the Filipino team on how the program could be implemented into two regions, Region IVA and Region IX, in the Philippine as a pilot program areas. With the Bhoochetana program, it enabled to raise production to 20% in rainfed farming areas where water is scarce. The program focuses on soil health, watershed management, varietal improvements and fertilizer management. Soil heath emphasizes on the soil fertility mapping where macro and micro-nutrients for plants and soil pH are being the center of the analysis. They not only include the Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium but also the Boron, Sulfur, Zinc, and Magnesium.
In watershed management, the approach is community based where water impounding or check dam are practiced. India has a very minimal amount of rainfall per year of about 800 mm only, however, they collect the water by making water impounding or entrapping the water in a creek or river. One creek channel has several dams to entrap water. For them, using water directly from a check dam is prohibited as its main purpose is for recharging the deep well and the soil water. They conserve it by adopting some policy regarding the use of entrapped water. Other practices are intercropping, bioengineering approach, and water harvesting.
In varietal improvement, Bhoochetana would not introduce a new crop not commonly planted by the farmer. They introduce the hybrid varieties that possess the characteristics of high yielding with less water intake and nutrients requirements. Fertilization is done by combining the organic and little of inorganic fertilizer application such as vermicompost, Borax, Zinc Sulfate and Magnesium sulfate - (not commonly done in the Philippine). These are the common fertilizers they are using other than the NPK source.
As these are the core concept of Bhoochetana, the Government of KarnatakaIndia succeeded in the implementation because the Local Government Units (LGU)and other national or state agencies with similar concerns and specific goals of helpingalleviate poverty and food security had converged themselves to enforce the programby performing its role on attaining the welfare of the farmers. Also, the participation oftheir state universities and colleges in agriculture helped through reviews and revisionsof the curriculum that provides support on it. They also empower farmers throughcapability building with series of workshop and training in a specific technologyparticularly on a crop for resilient dryland system.
In the Philippines, Bhoochetana program will be piloted in the two regions where Zamboanga Peninsula is one of them. However, for it to be more appealing , the name will be changed to a local dialect as “ Inang Lupa” with similar concept since Bhoochetana is an Indian terminology. Its importance to the ilipino farmers is so great that it would give them new technologies on how to raise production to 20% since they are food suppliers to feed the 98 million Filipinos. With the introduction of “Inang Lupa”, this helps Filipino farmers to boost significant food supply and alleviate poverty and food security.