Promoting agri-diversification as food security measure during a pandemic

by Elmer Sayre

During this Coronavirus pandemic, we are showing the power of small-holder farming producing food for the community and for locked-down urban centers. Our approach is crop-tree-animal diversification in order to build resilience and enhance income streams from a variety of agricultural products.

Others call this “permaculture” but we simply term this as going back to our old practice, where our grandparents have a small nipa hut, with some goats, pigs and carabaos roaming around ready for meat, milk or the market, variety of vegetables raised in pots, containers and small spaces fertilized with organic materials, root crops for our need for carbohydrates and much more. Surplus is sold to local and provincial markets so income can be used by the household and or invested to increase farm productivity. We aspire to add value to our production, for example, producing balut from duck eggs, turmeric powdered drink from raw turmeric, banana chips, tablea, wine and vinegar from dragon fruits, and many more, our imagination and passion are the only boundaries.

While the pandemic limits our ability to train farmers, it does not limit our passion and love for agriculture. Our desire to provide fresh, and continuous supply of food to urban dwellers fuels our drive to continuously improve our farming systems and share our knowledge with our neighbors and provide them with productive inputs so that they can start or expand their own farming enterprise.

Currently, we are working on our upland farm and preparing the cuttings for the propagation of dragon fruit, installing drip irrigation, planting vegetables such as water spinach (kangkong) and enhancing the area for ducks to ensure steady supply of eggs and balut. With a diversified farm, farmers and the community members will never be hungry. My fellow farmers and extension workers, let us continue to improve the productivity farms to ensure a food secure country!


About the author: Elmer Sayre was recognized as the 2019 PhilEASNet Outstanding Extensionist Award for his leadership and devotion in improving the knowledge and skills of farmers. The farms that he manages are located in Mahangub, Lubilan, Naaawan and in nearby Upper Tuod, Manticao, Misamis Oriental. These farms are ATI Learning Sites and the Mahangub farm is accredited by TESDA to conduct short courses in agriculture. He can be contacted by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and mobile 09395940382.