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Farmer profits from shifting to adlay farming

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Every progress requires risk. And only those who risk going far are able to know how far they can possibly go.

This saying works well for Conchita A. Banguiyao, 48, corn farmer from Maddela, Quirino, when she decided to go into adlay farming even with the limited knowledge on the crop. “I never heard of adlay before. All I know is that it is synonymous to rice in terms of taste and uses,” Banguiyao said.

She used to plant hybrid yellow corn but did not succeed and swore not to go through it again. “I will never go into corn farming again. I failed at it and that was when my debt piled up. When I was into corn farming, we just loan from the buyer then we used the money to buy the seeds. Nothing is left for us, there is no profit,” narrated Banguiyao.

She wasn’t aware of adlay until a team of researchers, led my Ms. Rosie Aquino of the Cagayan Valley Research Center (CVRC), Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) 2, visited the Mataga-ay Sustainable Resources Development and Conservation Association in Jose Ancheta, Maddela in June 2015. Conchita is an officer and a member of the Association.

“They were actually here for a technology demonstration on soybean but since most of us are into upland farming, they also introduced adlay. It was from them that I first heard of adlay,” Banguiyao recalled.

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During the technology demonstration, the group from CVRC brought an adlay milling machine to show how the adlay grains are processed into adlay grits. “They cooked the adlay grits for food tasting. It was then that I first tasted the rice-like adlay,” she said.

Impressed by what she saw and learned, Banguiyao expressed her enthusiasm and interest in planting adlay. She has zero knowledge in planting adlay but she got interested in the crop because there was a ready market for it. “My main reason is the fact that, there is a ready buyer for my harvest!” exclaimed Banguiyao.

Diosdado Estocapio, president of the Association, explained that CVRC buys all the adlay harvest from their members. “The association serves as an assembler of all the adlay harvest and CVRC buys them directly from the farmers for the processing of Gourmix,” he said. Estocapio also reported that the association has 62 members and more than 15 of them are now into adlay farming, convinced of its potential as a food crop.

Four months after Banguiyao heard of adlay, the group from CVRC came back and brought 15 kilos of adlay seeds for the farmers who expressed their interest in trying the crop. Banguiyao got seven kilos which she planted in October 2015 in her one-fourth hectare land. Two more farmers shared the remaining seeds, four kilo for each of them.

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According to the established cultural management, the best time to plant adlay is August-October and will be harvested after six months, around February-April.

Banguiyao harvested 170 kilos in April 2016 and sold it for Php 40 a kilo providing her an earning of P6,800. She kept some of the seeds for the next planting season.

She planted the remaining four kilos of seed in September 2016 and another three kilos in Nov 2016, which she got from her previous harvest. In March 2017, she harvested 270 kilos from her 0.5 hectare of land, sold it for Ph45 a kilo giving her an earning of Php12,150.

“What is good about planting adlay is that, it’s not a high-maintenance crop. No need for fertilizer. After you plant, you can just leave it. You will just see each other again six months after, during the harvest season,” said Banguiyao. She also mentioned that unlike corn or other crops, adlay is not easily attacked by harmful pests and diseases.

When asked how to further promote adlay Banguiyao said, “I think more farmers will plant adlay if we have the milling machine here in the area. Then, we can also promote it just like rice.” This was affirmed by the president of the Association saying, “I see that need as well. Since it is not possible that every farmer has his milling machine, at least if we have one in the Association, we can manage that and be an income generating project for us”.

Without the milling machine, the farmer does it manually through “bayo” (pounding) which has a low percentage recovery.

Banguiyao is spreading her wings, currently she now has a hectare of land planted to adlay. When asked about her previous reservation about planting adlay, she said, “it was a risk worth taking!” ### (Rita T. dela Cruz)