By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper
You have kitchen wastes, dried leaves, waste paper, etc? Don’t stack them in bags for pick-up by your garbage collector who will only yank them at the fetid and unhygienic open dumpsite that the great pretender, self-proclaimed “Premier City” and “Queen City of the South”, Iloilo City, has at Calajunan, Mandurriao.
You have harvested your palay crop and you want to plant again? Don’t burn your rice straw. Like throwing unsegregated garbage in open dumpsites, burning it harms public health and the ecology.
Biodegradable wastes are, in the words of Bert Balino, technician at the Iloilo Provincial Agriculture Office, “wealth in disguise”. They can be turned into fertilizer and one way of doing that is feed them to earthworms. I have given a few pairs of African earthworms to columnist Larry Locara who cultured them. Now, annelids crawl all over his garden in Jaro, Iloilo City,
Earthworm manure is superior fertilizer, easy to produce and needs only diligence seeing to it that your composting bin is moist and periodically replenished with organic materials. When you culture them in volume you can also use it as feed, as what farmer Boy Jalandoon does in his farm in Ajuy, Iloilo,
Jalandoon bought his seed of night crawlers from Negros Occidental at P500 per kilo. The worms now produce fertilizer for his farm and when these wrigglers are abundant, he casts them into his fishpond to feed his bangus.
We stumbled into the net site of “Pravda. English” (<http://english.pravda.ru/society/stories/16-10-2011/119339-Earthworms_help_to_slow_climate_change-0/>). It says that earthworms help slow down global warming. This website praises these wriggly creatures for transforming organic wastes into the world’s best plant food to fertilize our farms, and in turn, give us food that is safe from toxic chemicals.
The Philippine government still remains the biggest sales agent of multi-national corporations producing agri-chemicals. It has token programs that train farmers in going organic but reserves bigger mullahs supplying synthetic inputs to farmers to attain its goal of making the country self-sufficient in rice come 2015.
“Earthworms help both with the wetting of the soil, and retention of water in the dry season. The animal has the mouth and anus on opposite cavities,” reads the English Pravda. They are resilient and have inhabited the earth for 300 million years. “According to researcher they prevent floods and droughts which are reflections of global warming,” it adds.
A four-year study funded by Heritage Lottery Funding Group in Leicestershire, UK, proves the great role of earthworms. The soil where earthworms dig tunnels turns into a sponge during rains, that is, they enhance the efficiency of the soil in absorbing and retaining rainwater. During dry months, they slow down the loss of water. Aside from recycling nutrients as they burrow in the soil, earthworms are important as food for birds of various species.
A pair of earthworms can produce 100 to 140 offspring in a year and can live up to 10 years. They eat a third of their weight in one day.
Retaining biodegradable wastes at source for decomposition is the goal of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act or RA 9003. Under this law, open dumpsites like that in Iloilo City are to be closed in five years and replaced by sanitary landfills which are insulated underneath to prevent lecheate, effluents from the solid wastes seeping underground.
Earthworms as answer to garbage crisis never got into the thick cranium of Jerry Trenas. In nine years that he was mayor, he only regaled us that Iloilo would become “premier city” or “Queen City of the South”. Before he took his seat in Congress July 2010, a group of kids sued him for mandamus and damages for violating RA 9003.
Still on global warming. Mangoes, supposed to be aplenty nowadays, are still pegged at the high P70 kilo. Tomatoes remains prohibitive at P40-50/kilo, garlic P100 and onions P80-P100. They are supposed to be cheaper by now. Watermelons still remain at P15 to P20/kilo when it should have gone down to only P30 per head of three kilos plus. The kamunsil, Ilonggos’ favorite, which by now should sell at P60 – P80/kilo, is even nowhere around.
The culprit: aberrant weather and heavy rains ruined them.