Mr. Mario Urtal is an organic practitioner and innovator from Brgy. Pandanan, Sultan Naga Dimaporo, Lanao Del Norte. He is 40 years old, married to Victoriana Urtal with 2 children. At present, he is the president of the Parents-Teachers Association in Pandanan Elementary School and the Public Information Officer of the Sustainable Agriculture Practitioners’ Organization of Lanao, Inc. (SAPOL). Mr. Urtal owns two parcels of land approximately 5,000 square meters and 9,000 square meters located in Brgy. Kauswagan, Sultan Naga Dimaporo, Lanao Del Norte. The farm is 10 km away from the market.
Mr. Urtal was a conventional farmer for 10 years, from 1999-2009. In 2009, he converted to organic farming for safe food sources and to lessen farm production expenses. The major crops planted by Mr. Urtal are bitter gourd (Momordica charantia), eggplant (Solanum melongena), tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), pole sitao (Phaseolus vulgaris), and pepper (Capsicum annuum) or atsal. He occasionally plants okra (Abelmoschus esculemtum), peanut (Arachis hypogea), upo (Lagenaria siceraria), cassava (Manihot esculenta), gabi (Colocasia esculenta), ginger (Zingiber officinale), and corn (Zea mays). He preferred these vegetables because they are well adapted to his location, they are short duration crops, and they are easy to market. He plants atsal (Green bell pepper) between the months of October to January when the demand and price are very high.
His fertilization program includes the use of fermented seaweeds, locally called guso (Eucheuma alvarezii) and samo (Sargassum fluitans); Fermented Effective Microorganisms (FEM); Indigenous Microorganisms (IMO); CalPhos; Fermented Amino Acid (FAA); and Fermented Fruit Juice (FFJ). The IMO is used as a plant/soil drench to feed the microorganism in the soil in order to provide nutrients to plants. CalPhos is ‘burnt’ eggshells fermented in vinegar that provides Calcium, phosphorus, and some micronutrients. In his farm, fermented guso increases vegetable and fruit production, and produce heavier rice grains. The use of fermented effective microorganism (FEM) on the other hand, resulted to vigorous growth in vegetables and reduced fruit drop.
Mr. Urtal practices crop rotation as he plants sweet pepper on July-August, followed by eggplant, tomato then ampalaya. The rotation system is done both in time and space. He observed that this system over time is very effective in reducing pest incidence in his farm. In cases of severe pest infestation, Mr. Urtal uses several concoctions. These are:
– PANTASI, a mixture of panyawan or makabuhay (Tinospora rumphii), tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) and hot pepper (C. frutescens, sili);
– KUTASI is the acronym for the mixture of Asiatic bitter yam (Dioscorea hispida), tobacco and sili; and
– “MARVIC’ is a concoction that Mr.Urtal developed and tested by himself. He used to call this concoction ‘Bulay-Bulay’ but later renamed it ‘MARVIC’ after his name and his wife Victoriana. The following are the ingredients in the preparation of MARVIC: garlic (Allium sativum), ginger, red onion (A. sepa), hot pepper (sili), and bark of kalachuchi (Plumeria spp.), vinegar, and coconut milk (gata). The concoction serves as insect and fungal disease repellant and because of its efficacy as proven in Mr. Untal’s farm for pest and disease control, his co-farmers encouraged him to produce more and to be sold to them. He also uses a yellow box coated with a mixture of oil, ‘tuba’ and ‘kinugay’ (dried muscovado) inside. The yellow color, tuba, and kinugay are insect attractants, while the oil acts as stickers that ‘trap’ the insects.
The main problem that Mr. Urtal encountered in his shift to organic agriculture is the pest infestation. Since he doesn’t use pesticides because of health issues and high cost, he experimented on concoctions for pest management using materials readily available to him. Another concern is his compacted soil, although he has not submitted this for soil analyses, he thinks that it is acidic. He sprays IMO to soften the soil and uses CalPhos to correct soil acidity. . Mr. Urtal wants to develop his own vermicompost and demo farm. He is currently conducting experiments to compare if there is any difference in plant response to fermented ‘guso’ (using boiled and unboiled guso). He plans to acquire some farm equipment such as power sprayer, knapsack sprayer, and a carbonizer.