LAOAG CITY — Twenty-seven year-old John Lei Ganiron is a rising star in organic farming. He is an “Outstanding Young Farmer” awardee in Batac City who pioneered in automated hydroponics technology last year, growing lettuce and other high-value vegetables.
A graduate of Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Communications Engineering, he opted to follow in his dad’s footsteps as an outstanding organic farmer.
Sharing his bright prospects in agriculture, Ganiron is now a certified organic farming trainer by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and a staunch advocate of green revolution.
He is engaged in the propagation of floating-leaf plants considered as power foods for animals, fish, ducks and chickens, among others.
Over the years, these protein-rich aquatic plants such as Azolla caroliniana (mosquito fern), duckweed and giant salvinia imported from the United States have been utilized by some farmers here and abroad but it is only now that local farmers like the Ganiron family are trying to revive their propagation.
“It took me a hard time to figure how to grow it because of erratic weather and warm temperature. I made a series of tests at home and at the farm. When I was about to give up, my father called on me saying our plant experiment at farm is showing sign of progress,” Ganiron said.
From a simple makeshift of rectangular containers filled with water and some other recycled plastic materials and styrofor, these floating leaf-plants grow in abundance at the Ganiron residence in Ben-agan. Some are also grown at their approximately three-hectare farm in San Mateo village, about a 10-minute drive from the city proper.
To date, John Lei and his dad Romeo, who is also a multi-awarded farmer, are now selling these aquatic plants at a fairly good price ranging from Php 800 to Php 1,000 per kilo.
According to the younger Ganiron, growing these protein-rich plants greatly reduced their farm inputs as they are also engaged in growing tilapia and catfish, free-range chickens and wild pigs, among others.
For interested farmers or agriculture students, the Romaine Organics school for practical agriculture, being managed by the father and son, is now accepting applicants on organic farming technology course, free of charge.
Starting this September, they can accommodate up to 30 individuals to compose the first batch of trainees. As the first TESDA-accredited farm business school in Ilocos Norte, the Romaine Organics Open University provides a 29-day training course to all interested applicants aged 18 years old and above.
Upon completion and assessment, successful graduates can avail of their national certificate from TESDA. PNA-northboundasia.com