Hydroponic: A new hope for Dinagat farmers

By Locena Abadilla

It is not a secret that the province of Dinagat Islands is rich in natural resources. While some consider it as an ecotourism haven, mining has become prevalent in the island, thus leaving soil acidic and not fit for agricultural purposes. This makes farmers in Dinagat worry about their produce and source of income.

There have been initiatives from government agencies to help restore the place’s serenity and nature, and sustain the livelihood of its constituents. Among those are hydroponic and aquaponic farming.

Hydroponic farming is a science of growing plants without the use of soil. It only needs water that contains nutrient solution essential to the plants. While aquaponic farming is the combination of raising fish and growing vegetables in one integrated system. The fish provides food for the plants, and the plants clean the water for the fishes.

Hydroponics technology training
Farmers in Dinagat are not equipped and knowledgeable enough about these farming techniques. Dennis Tuskowski, a foreign farmer who settled in Dinagat, took the initiative and reached the provincial science and technology center of Dinagat (PSTC-PDI) for technical assistance.
In response to the request, a two-day technology training on hydroponic and aquaponic farming was held last June 26 to 27, 2018, at Doña Helene, Basilisa, Province of Dinagat Islands. It was participated by 37 farmers, fishermen, and government personnel from PSTC-PDI, Agricultural Technology Institute (ATI), and Human Resource Development Office of Dinagat Islands. Dr. Chito F. Sace, a professor from Central Luzon State University in Nueva Ecija and an expert in both hydroponic and aquaponic farming, talked about the advantages of the said techniques for Dinagat.

“These could help improve the plants’ nutrition and spacing between plants to prevent soil-borne diseases & insect pests,” told Dr. Sace. He added that the techniques make efficient use of water and fertilizers producing plants with longer shelf-life. The systems can help increase yield because less labor is required. These also minimize the presence of weeds, which means that less cultivation is needed, no plowing and harrowing thus plants mature faster.
Dr. Sace together with PSTC-PDI will help Tuskowski in learning how to make the nutrient solution and in adopting the technology so that Mr. Tuskowski can replicate the innovation in the island. Tuskowski’s farm will be registered to ATI’s agri-tourism project as an agricultural farming site. He plans to make his farm as a training center for those who are interested to venture into hydroponic and aquaponic farming.