Published on September 2nd, 2009 | by Legazpi City
Aquinas University spearheads urban agriculture in Legazpi
The Aquinas University of Legazpi (AUL) has implemented a project dubbed “Urban Agriculture through the High-Value Commercial Crops Techno-Demo Farm” within its expansive campus here. The project features 60-square-meter greenhouse where vegetables highly sensitive to rain and changes in temperature like broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower and honeydew melon are being propagated.
Gardens for more hardy vegetables such as squash, eggplant and watermelon were also established in an open area of 1,000 square meters whose perimeters were planted to rootcrops like ubi and sweet potato. Cucumber and sweet corn are being intercropped with those plants during the dry season. A 5,000-square-meter farm for upland organic rice is also being established.
Adjacent to the demo farm, organic fertilizers will be produced soon through vermiculture using earthworms in the decomposition process of rice hull and coconut peat. The first phase of the project started late last year with the establishment of a “techno-demo” farm in the Rawis Campus with a timetable of one year. After which, it will be replicated but on an expanded version in a larger property of the university in the upland village of Banquerohan, also here.
The replication will be the second phase of the project being entirely supervised by Dr. Antonio Payonga of the Bicol University College of Agriculture and Forestry (BUCAF) based in Guinobatan, Albay. This phase would start before the end of the year and managed in such a way that it becomes self-sustaining with the income derived from the sale of products be plowed back to the project for continuous production.
A part of which will be saved for future expansion and development, Payonga said. Vegetable production within the urban farm could be done continuously in a year with two or three cycles while upland organic rice and root crops will be produced once a year, he explained.
The demo farm is a project conceived by the Aquinas Center for Continuing Education (CCE) under Dr. Susana C. Cabredo in response to the challenges of the prevailing food crisis felt with the dwindling supply of agricultural crops in the local market.
Cabredo, the CCE head, said the challenge is directed not only to the agriculture sector but to all sectors of society, including the academe as the problem is exacerbated with the increases in prices of oil that directly affects food production and distribution.
“Thus, it behooved academic institutions like AUL to transform from being mere consumers of food products to growers and suppliers especially of high-value commercial crops, the technology of which could be shared with communities particularly those in the urban areas,” she explained.
Related activities could also provide students in science, engineering and commerce hands-on experiences that dovetail with classroom learning about state-of-the-art urban farming technology.
In fact, the AUL College of Business Administration has already prepared a business plan that would help the project earn revenue, Cabredo said. Aside from alleviating poverty and improving the wellbeing of Legazpeños and Albayanos in the long-term, the project could also improve the quality of urban environment through “greening,” and thus help reduce pollution, she said.
Considering the University’s proximity, the demo farm could spur agro-tourism like the strawberry fields of La Trinidad, Benguet. It would also enhance or reinvigorate the entrepreneurial skills of the Aquinians while building stronger linkages with the communities it serves, Cabredo said.
AUL owns several parcels of land within the city such as the downtown Political Science Campus, the Aquinas Peak in Barangay Taysan and a vast agricultural estate in Banquerohan, among others. Close to the business district, the main campus in Barangay Rawis is more than 30 contiguous hectares. (PNA) LDV/jca/LQ/DOC/cbd
Source: ‘Aquinas University spearheads urban agriculture in Legazpi‘, balita.ph, Aug. 31, 2009. Accessed Sept. 3, 2009.