From being a technician in a chemical company to becoming an organic farmer, his “change of heart” became his commitment in influencing his fellow farmers to switch to organic farming.
“Organic farming is an attitude, not a way of farming,” says Loreto Godoy. The 38-year old farmer from Brgy. Can-ipa in Baybay used to work for a chemical company as a technician, endorsing insecticides, pesticides, and inorganic fertilizers. When he switched to organic farming, he realized the wrong things he did for selling chemical-laden vegetables to consumers. For him, to call yourself as an organic farmer means that your attitude towards organic farming must be firm and positive.
“While working as a technician, he met people who were successful in their farming business. Realizing that he could also gain more income from farming, he ventured into it and started growing vegetables in 2004. Equipped with ample knowledge as an Agriculture graduate from VSU in 1999, Mr. Godoy did well in farming, adding more income to what he earned as a technician.
“ Godoy practiced conventional farming at that time. “There were times that I was forced to harvest and sell vegetables newly sprayed with chemicals because buyers were already demanding for it”, said Godoy. “Also, if the vegetables are almost ready to be harvested but then I see insect pests, I would spray it with chemicals”, he added. He said he became health-conscious after he was diagnosed to have gallstones in his bladder. Worried about his family's health and realizing that his sickness was caused by the chemicals from his inorganic method of farming, Godoy thought that he must change something. He said he joined trainings and seminars on organic farming through the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI). Although he already has knowledge about organic farming, Godoy did not realize its value until he practiced organic farming by heart.
“Organic farming is hard to do at the start due to expensive organic fertilizers and the low quality of the soil, so he just treated his new endeavor in organic farming as his playground; harvesting vegetables only for home consumption. Through experience and observation, he realized the important benefits of a balanced ecosystem. “I used to spray inorganic pesticides but I noticed that it also affected the beneficial insects”. After a year in organic farming, he stopped using chemical insecticides and let the beneficial insects eradicate the pests.
“Godoy slowly diversified his farming; he included swine, goats, and poultry animals. For that, he managed to use the animal manure, including vermicasts from earthworms, as his own source of organic fertilizer. Slowly he started gaining more profit from that leverage. The most significant change that happened after switching to organic farming, he said, was realizing the wrong things he did before. It is known that conversion from conventional to organic farming would take its toll on the farmer at the start. “Now, my conscience is clean. I don't care if my yield gets low at times as long as I'm selling clean vegetables’’. In collaboration with the ATI, he's now doing hydroponics, aquaponics and vertical gardening mostly of lettuce in his backyard garden which also serves as farmers' learning site.
“Joining farmers' associations, like the Baybay Farmers' Association (BAFA) and Organikong Magsasakasa sa Rehiyon Otso (OMRO), developed his sense of togetherness with other farmers. Before, when he was still practicing conventional farming, he would just stay in the farm, not making friends with other farmers. He said he didn't even want to share his knowledge for fear of losing in the competition. “But after attending meetings with the associations, I realized that there are still lots of farmers who are still struggling because of the lack of knowledge in farming.” Now serving as the president of BAFA, Godoy helps the small-time farmers to sell their products straight to the market. He, together with other resource speakers, conducts small seminars as “Magsasaka Siyentista”; endorsing organic farming methods and technology. He rejects visitors who would endorse the use of chemical pesticides.
“With lots of things to attend to, Mr. Godoy strives to take care of his farm, the association and his family. All these he does while also performing his advocacy of sharing his knowledge in organic farming to those who need it.
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