Barobo Uswag ug Lungtad: Ampingan ang Wati nga Nagmugna sa Abonong Natural (BULAWAN)
Worming its way into the hearts of Barangay Barobo’s residents, the African Night Crawler became a source of pride and a source of livelihood for many households. This vermi worm feeds on biodegradable waste products and produces vermi cast, which is used as organic fertilizer in rice and vegetables production.
Barobo is classified as a depressed barangay with agriculture as the main source of income for its residents, most of whom are farm workers. After learning about the technology, the Barangay Council encouraged the constituents to adopt the composting process of vermiculture.
In February of 2005, Barobo Uswag ug Lungtad:Ampingan ang Wati nga nagmugna sa Abonong Natural or project BULAWAN was conceived. It entailed the promotion and marketing of vermi worms and casts. Barangay Barobo’s residents were encouraged to actively get involved in the gathering of waste materials and in the actual culture and harvesting of both vermi worms and casts.
Among the initial big buyers of vermi worms were JOCEL’s Agro Farm and Dr. Policarpo Murillo IV. They both operate large vermi farms. Barangay Barobo managed to effectively market their product that buyers of vermi worms and cast came from as far as Misamis Oriental, Lanao, Cotabato and Davao del Sur Provinces.
With project BULAWAN, the women of Barangay Barobo also became more active in productive endeavors. Initially, they engaged in growing worms and cast in their backyards. Later on, the women became employed as workers in the local vermi farm of Dr. Gerson Salvan who provides a regular supply of casts to Lim Ket Kai, a prominent business establishment in Cagayan de Oro City.
The project increased family incomes by 40% and helped liberate many households from long standing indebtedness. Project BULAWAN also reduced the practice of burning combustible organic waste and reduced the emission of harmful gasses in the barangay. More importantly, it resulted in widespread adoption of organic farming with 90% of the barangays replicating the project. By using organic fertilizers, corn farmers were able to reduce their production expenses by as much as 48.5% and sugarcane farmers by as much as 41.4%.
Project BULAWAN also generated additional revenues for Barangay Barobo because the Food Sufficiency Program or City Ordinance No. 2008-9 requires the regular purchase of vermi cast by the city government from the barangays. The city government has allotted a total of P5 million for the purchase of vermi casts from all the barangays and provides ten bags of vermicast to each farmer beneficiary.
The process of separating the worms from the casts has now been mechanized with the use of a vermi separator, an innovation which resulted in increased outputs. This process was previously done manually by two persons using fine screens. The barangay government is now planning to purchase an additional unit for rental by the stakeholders.
Project BULAWAN started with a mere two kilos of vermi worms. Today it is estimated that 20 tons of the composter worms are produced in Valencia City alone. Only 6 percent of barangay households were involved in the project in 2005. By 2008, the percentage of involved households increased to 60 percent. The LGUs from neighboring provinces have also begun replicating the program in their localities.