KAPANGAN, Benguet – Meet Henry Abangley, Jr., a 37-year-old trailblazer and the driving force behind the i-Kapangan Farmers Entrepreneurs Organization (i-KFEO). Under his guidance, this group has flourished into a gleaming model of sustainability and prosperity.
Established in 2018, i-KFEO has become an inspiring presence at Labueg in Kapangan, Benguet. Acting as its primary market partner, the renowned Jollibee Foods Corporation has found synergy with this collective of 35 devoted individuals, pooling their skills and knowledge to drive their enterprise forward.
A key player in this inspiring journey is none other than Henry, who leads by example with a 2,000 square meter production area brimming with bell peppers and French beans.
However, recognizing the demand and potential of bell peppers, he strategically shifted his focus to meet the needs of his market, ensuring a consistent supply of this sought-after crop.
Needless to say, this remarkable endeavor hasn’t been without its fair share of challenges. Confronting pests and diseases that threaten Henry’s crops has been a persistent battle.
“Ti challenges nga na-encounter mi ket ti pests and diseases iti mula, karkaro daytoy fusarium wilt, tapos dagitoy [white flies] nga narigat [maikat],” Henry emphasized.
(The challenges that we really encountered are the pests and diseases of plants, especially the fusarium wilt and the white flies.)
Eventually, he has effectively managed these obstacles armed with determination and the interventions provided by the Department of Agriculture-Cordillera through its High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP).
The introduction of more robust greenhouses, a hallmark of the HVCDP, has provided a shield against the unpredictable forces of nature, safeguarding crops from typhoons and insects.
“Mayat diyay greenhouse gamin safe [diyay mula] iti typhoon, kasla met lang iti insects. Nanayunan diyay apit mi, as compared idi nga medyo open iti greenhouse tayo,” Henry pointed out, attributing a remarkable 50 percent increase in production to these greenhouses.
(The greenhouse is good because it protects our crops from typhoons and insects. Our harvest has increased as compared before when our greenhouse is slightly exposed.)
Cultivating safe farming practices
Another cornerstone of Henry’s success lies in his commitment to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). By adhering to these rigorous guidelines, he ensures that his produce is not only bountiful but also safe for consumption.
“Before nga maka-GAP kami, adu ti challenges met laeng dagidiay practice. Ngem idi nag-GAP kami, kitaen mi dagiyay label iti usar mi, i-follow mi idiay amin. Tapnu iti i-produce tayo nga kanen dagiti gumatang, safe launay,” Henry said.
(We encountered a lot of challenges in our farming practice before we became GAP-certified. But when we became certified, we thoroughly read and follow the labels of what we are using (agricultural inputs), so that our produce will still be safe to consume.)
Henry emphasizes how GAP certification has transformed their practices, instilling a sense of responsibility and accountability for the environment and their consumers. He passionately encourages fellow farmers to follow suit, endorsing GAP certification as a stepping stone to both improved practices and a safer, more sustainable farming.
“Diyay padak nga ag-garden nga agduduwa pay lang nga ag-register iti GAP, adda met ti mayat nga benipisyo nga maala tayo idtoy. Maadalan tayo nga kasano tayo nga ag-[harvest] iti bunga iti mula tayo nga safe nga kanen. Aglawlaw tayo ta ammo tayo nga idulin dagidiay haan nga ammo nga idulin iti damo. Ta iti GAP, ammo tayo iti mangdadael iti environment tayo, isu nga ammo tayo kuma nga idulin ta haan komporme iti pagbellengan tayo dagiti usar tayo nga hazardous waste,” Henry said.
(To my fellow farmers who are doubting to register for GAP, there are benefits that we can get here. We can learn how to harvest properly so that our produce would be safe for consumption. Moreover, we now know how to properly store the things (agricultural inputs) we don’t usually practice before. We are now familiar with what destroys our environment, that’s why we must know how to store and not just dispose of hazardous waste.)
Gratitude and looking forward
Looking back at his journey, he expresses profound gratitude to DA-CAR for their unwavering support. He acknowledges that their assistance has been pivotal in elevating their organization, while also emphasizing the need for continued growth.
“Agyaman kami launay ti Department of Agriculture ta dakkel nga tulong para kadakami nga farmer dagitoy inted yo kadakami. Usaren mi dagitoy nga pang-improve pay nu kasano kami nga ag-garden. Isuro mi met lang diyay kakadwa mi tapno kasta, umad-ado pay ti mangkayat nga practice panggep iti panag-garden mi,” Henry expressed.
(We are thankful because this is a big help to us farmers in improving our way of farming. We will also share good agricultural practices to other members). By JBPeralta