Skip to content

Novel scholarship for agri students

January 17, 2011


January 15, 2011, 12:24am


MANILA, Philippines – One trend is that there are less and less students enrolling in agriculture courses. The usual reason advanced is that students tend to enroll in other courses like nursing and computer science. Another reason advanced is that many families can’t afford to send their children to college because of lack of funds.

This lack of cash for enrolling in an agriculture course is what the Ecological and Agricultural Development Foundation of Ramon Uy of Bacolod City is trying to address even just in a modest way. Last year Eco-Agri launched a unique scholarship program for

students whose families can’t afford to send them to college. The scholarship program started with 12 students enrolled at the Negros Occidental State College of Agriculture in Kabankalan town. Eco-Agri paid for the tuition ranging from P5,000 to P7,000 per semester per student. The students are also given some rice for their weekly needs.

What is unique in this program is that the school has allotted a one-hectare land where the students can grow organic vegetables as well as pigs. These vegetables which they tend during their off hours can provide them with a source of income for their other needs. More importantly, they are trained to become entrepreneurs.

The students have already planted a number of vegetables like mungo, ampalaya, soybean, papaya, lemon grass and other crops that have a ready market in the province. One possible money maker is alugbati which is a favorite vegetable of Ilongos. Alugbati shoots are highly nutritious and the plant is very easy to cultivate. The plant can be propagated by both cuttings and seed. With the application of organic fertilizer, this vegetable can be grown year-round so harvesting is throughout the year. The more the shoots are harvested, the more shoots will develop. There are also easy-to-grow crops that could also be money-makers for the students like saluyot, camote and pepper for their shoots. These are relished by most families and therefore have a ready market.

Organic pig production is another project that the students have already started. The expenses in buying the piglets as well as the feeds are provided by the Eco-Agri Foundation although most of the feeds may consist of green forage like madre de agua and other leafy legumes.

In the process of growing their vegetables and pigs, the students are given guidance by a technician of Eco-Agri and staff of the agricultural college. Eco-Agri hopes that in the end, the students will have developed entrepreneurship skills so that they don’t have to seek employment in other fields. They could start their own businesses in organic farming which is becoming increasingly popular in Negros.

Ramon Uy says that eventually, the students will pay back the expenses advanced by Eco-Agri when they shall have their own sources of income. That’s one way of instilling responsibility and self-respect among the participants in the program.

Meanwhile, Aladino Moraca, executive director of Eco-Agri, said that their organization is also active in helping small farmers so they can produce their own fertilizers for organic farming. This is by means of installing biogas systems in various communities where farmers are growing rice. They are installing biogas units which are highly subsidized by the foundation. The biogas unit is fed with pig manure and those of other animals like carabaos and cattle. The farmer groups, especially the land reform beneficiaries, only have to pay half of the cost of the biogas units in two years.

Sludge from the biogas digester is the main organic fertilizer that can be used by farmers. Moraca said that a 6-cubic meter digester can already take care of the fertilizer needs of 10 to 15 hectares of riceland. Of course, the gas is also used as fuel in the households.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: