Sowing Young Blood, Reaping Good Future:
OH WANGAN INTEGRATED FARM
Jim Reeves M. Laguitao is a 26-year-old Ibaloi who came from a family of farmers in Bokod, Benguet. He and his family established the Oh Wangan Integrated Farm, which aims to deliver good and quality upland vegetable seedlings in the locality and adjacent towns. The name of the farm came from the Kalanguya term ‘uwangan’, which means ‘agricultural workplace’.
Dedicating oneself to agriculture
Due to his family background, he chose to learn more about agriculture. With the vision to uplift Philippine agriculture by making it easier, productive, and profitable. After he passed the board exam, he worked at a well-known agricultural private company in Tarlac for more than a year. He then left his job to pursue his Master’s degree at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. When the pandemic hit and lockdowns were implemented, he started to work full-time on their farm.
Taking into consideration the limited quality of upland vegetable seedlings in their area, the Oh Wangan Integrated Farm offered various kinds of upland vegetable seedlings to local farmers catering to the increasing demand of such seedlings. As an Agricultural and Biosystems Engineer, the young man’s concern was the extensive use of costly chemical products which harm the land and deplete soil nutrients and microbiological diversity over time, making the land less productive. Moreover, with the thought of reducing input cost and increased revenues, Laguitao and his team have planned to apply the integrated farm for a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification in the near future; setting a portion of the farm income for the construction of GAP-required facilities and others.
However, like any other farmers, the Oh Wangan was not spared from natural calamities. With the long-lasting monsoon rains that hit their municipality, crops were greatly damaged and farms were vastly affected. The supposedly GAP certification savings was drawn to get through the damages.
Restarting with DA and YFCF
Not long after the calamity struck, the Young Farmers Challenge Fund (YFCF) Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) came in and played a major role in the “getting back on track” of Laguitao and his team.
Winning Php 50,000 in the Provincial Level Competition, Laguitao was able to purchase materials for the construction of six low-cost but durable crop shelters that are able to withstand even in long rainy seasons. In December 2021, he was able to sell 43,000 vegetable seedlings, accumulating an income of Php 50,500. With this amount, he managed to hire six fellow young people for them to experience and appreciate agriculture while earning extra income.
Furthermore, the grant amounting to Php 150,000 from the Regional Level was used for the construction of additional crop shelters, seedling trays, and irrigation tanks. Some parts of the grant will also be used to improve their facilities, particularly the construction of a receiving area and an additional comfort room in the farm.
The DA High Value Crop Development Program (HVCDP) also gave several interventions to the farm. Adding all grants he received, this really helped him fulfill the great plans he has for their farm such as making it GAP-certified. Other plans are to make the farm a learning site with the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), and to be an accredited seedling producer by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) in order to participate in government procurement of vegetable seedlings.
To date, Laguitao and the Oh Wangan Integrated Farm continuously encourage and employ young bloods to generate jobs and to help assure food security for the nation. ###