Solsona farmers seek buyers of their “vermicultured” fertilizers

SOLSONA, Ilocos Norte, May 12 (PIA) – – Farmers are seeking buyers of organic fertilizers they produced out of vermifarming here.

Engineer Ranison Narciso, the municipal agriculturist of Solsona town, disclosed that the existence of the local vermiculture industry is at risk due to the continuing decline of buyers of vermi products.

“The sudden upsurge of farmers engaging in vermifarming in other towns within and outside the province has affected the demand of the vermicultured organic fertilizers being produced from our town,” said Narciso.

“However, we are currently locating possible buyers of our organic fertilizers through a linkage with interested towns, agencies, farmer’s organizations and private individuals,” he added.

Solsona started its vermifarming industry in 2011. Five villages from the total 22 barangays of the town are the most active in the farming practice to include Catangraran, Bagbag, Bubuos, Darasdas, and Talugtog.

But, the more than thousand farmers, who began venturing in the farming practice when launched in the town, now decreased to at least 400 due to lack of buyers.

Gelor Caacbay, a former vermi-farmer in Barangay Catangraran, claimed that the absence of buyers of vermicultured fertilizers has forced him to stop venturing on it.

“If they (the farmers) would see that the buyers would return or there is an open market for the product, maybe they would participate again in the production of vermi products,” Caacbay said.

In 2013, Solsona was the second biggest producer and supplier of vermicompost in the Philippines next to Nueva Ecija.
“In 2013, the vermifarming industry of the town soared with the support of agencies such as the provincial government of Ilocos Norte, Philrice, National Tobacco Administration, private walk-in farmers, and hobbyists,” Narciso said.

In a 45 – day production period, a farmer can yield at least 1,500 kilograms or 30 sacks of vermi cast or “vermicultured fertilizer” with a comfortable net income from it.

The Latin word “vermi” means “worm.” Vermifarming is either the practice of culturing worms (Vermiculture) or producing vermicompost (vermicomposting).

Solsona town’s farmers are using the specie of worm, African Night Crawler (Eudrilus Eugeniae) or ANC, for converting organic wastes into high quality compost. The worms are fed with manure and farm waste and are placed in bins.

Vermi fertilizer is used as a soil conditioner and is a bio-active fertilizer for organic farming. It supplies microelements that a plant needs which commercial fertilizers do not possess. Compared to other organic fertilizers, it is odorless and of high quality.

To enhance the production of the vermi products in Barangay Catangraran, the local government unit (LGU) of Solsona town provided a garbage shredder and shaker strainer machines.

Narciso disclosed that the local vermi fertilizer can be in two (2) forms: vermi cast or the solid form and vermitea, a liquid form that is brewed and mixed with brown sugar for use as a foliar fertilizer.

A farmer, who uses vermifertilizer, has reduced his cost of production in farming due to his decreasing use of chemical fertilizer.

“Our farmer continues to sell vermi products, a kilo of vermi cast is worth P5.00 while the earthworms are worth P350 to P400 per kilo,” Narciso diclosed.

At present, the vermi products, both the worm and the cast when not bought by the cooperative of vermifarmers, are either sold by the farmers to walk-in customers or are used in their own crops. (Freddie G. Lazaro/ PIA- 1 Ilocos Norte/Kayelene A. Caacbay, NWU Intern)