Written by Ginalyn V Arbutante
To 50-year old Bernardo G. Paña, the best way to increase farm yields and income is to integrate duck raising into rice farming.
“Mang Nardo,” as his friends and neighbors call him, has been into farming for 21 years. According to him, rice-duck farming is an effective system to maximize resources in a farm, which eventually results to increased profits. Mang Nardo said that the higher profits he realized from his rice-duck farm enabled him to send his siblings to school.
He is one of the many participants who took part in PhilRice Agusan`s Annual Field Day and Stakeholders’ Forum held last October 18, 2013 at Basilisa, RTRomualdez, Agusan del Norte. The theme of the field day was “Responsabling Pagpanguma Palambuon Alang sa Siguradong Kaugmaon” (Advancing Responsible Farming for a Secured Future), and featured six key stations namely: Palayabangan: the 10-5 Challenge; Palayaman Plus` Nursery and Learning Center; Farm Mechanization; National Year of Rice Campaign; Launching of New Technologies/ Discoveries; and PhilRice Bazaar.
The event greatly interested Mang Nardo, since it primarily showcased technologies promoting responsible utilization of resources while increasing or sustaining farmers’ yield.
“Our farmers are heroes,” said Dr. Maria Luisa R. Soliven in her keynote speech during the program.
Asked on how responsible he is as a farmer, Mang Nardo answered with a big, “Yes, I am very responsible coz I’m doing my part in taking care of the environment by means of utilizing organic farming.”
“And in terms of rice consumption, I used to remind my family, friends and neighbors to eat just the right amount of food and avoid rice wastage,” he added.
Besides sharing his experience and knowledge about integrated duck-rice farming during the field day, Mang Nardo said that he also learned to be money-smart by availing of low-interest loans to help boost the production of his farm.
Mang Nardo also shared that virtue with his neighbors and members of the irrigator`s association of which he is the president.
As the president of the Tibarao Patubig Irrigator`s Association, he convinced members to avail of low-interest loans from banks instead of availing from the non-formal lending firms, which mostly charged higher interest rates.
“From the time I availed loans from a bank, I no longer compromised to pay with higher interest rates from other lending institutions” he said.
Mang Nardo thinks wisely for he knows that what he sows, he will reap from it a hundred or a thousand times. To continue his legacy on smart and responsible farming for the coming generations, Mang Nardo encouraged his other siblings to take up Agriculture when they reach college.
The humble Mang Nardo mirrors the unsung and faceless heroes who are now embracing new paradigms in rice production. Their example, if emulated by the majority of farmers in the country, will fast track the attainment of that once elusive goal of rice self-sufficiency. For this, the country must give credit and honor to its heroes who till the soil, because without responsible farmers like Mang Nardo, the country may not have enough food to eat.