To address problems of food shortage in mountain barangays during dry spells, the Department of Science and Technology 7 and its private partner have introduced natural farm production of draught-resistant fruit trees and fish species to mountainfolk in Borbon, Cebu, making them food-ready for the coming of the El Nino.

The DOST 7 has joined hands with the Action for Skills, Knowledge, Education and Wellness Center Corp. (ASKEDWELL) in a project called the Integrated Natural Farming System which has two components, namely, the skills education and the natural production of drought-resilient agricultural and aquatic products.

The project aims at sharing the farming technique to produce breadfruit (locally known as colo) and at transferring the technology of artificially breeding African catfish, to the residents of upland Barangays Bongdo and Bongdo Goa, in the town of Borbon, Cebu.

The project is part of the government’s efforts to mitigate the adverse impact of global warming on the countryside, not only by providing the town folks localized means of income but by ensuring them food supply to tide them over during El Nino.

Global warming triggered long period of drought resulting in habitat desiccation in many parts of the country. This affected the ability of farm lands to produce food crops and other agricultural products for the livelihood and sustenance of rural folk.

Artificial breeding of African fish, whose scientific name is Clarias Garipinus, is seen by the DOST and ASKEDWELL as a viable answer to food scarcity problem in may draught-stricken, impoverished mountain villages in Cebu towns in times of El Nino.

African catfish, an ear-breathing fish species which is much bigger than our indigenous catfish locally known as piragratewon and can grow to as long as four feet,  is known for its natural versatility in physical adaptation that enables them to survive the “harshest of environments” including water with low oxygen concentrations.

It can survive in a habitat without or less water for hours and even days, or in adverse water quality conditions such as stagnant, low-oxygen water that is lethal to other species of fish. It can even tolerate high levels of ammonia during aerial exposure.

This eel-looking fish, which has two to four pairs of whiskers around their mouth, are voracious predator and feeds on almost anything including rotting flesh insects, reptiles, amphibians, young birds, fish, snails, plankton, crabs and a large variety of agriculture byproducts.

Dr. Silvino Maranga, ASKEDWELL Chairman and chief executive officer, in collaboration with the DOST 7, enlisted the services of aquaculture consultant, Wilfredo Santander to share his knowledge of artificial catfish propagation with the residents of the two Borbon mountain barangays.

Santander explained that the method of catfish propagation basically involves proper selection of male and female brood stock, stripping of the eggs from the female ovary, collection of the induced ovulation by way of intra-muscular injection of male reproductive hormone into mature female, incision in the male’s testis tissue to collect the sperm, external fertilization process of systematically mixing the eggs and the sperms outside of the ovary, and spawning of the fish in a hand-made overground water tank or basin.

He said this artificial reproduction technique is useful in hinterlands and agricultural villages, especially in areas where natural waters forms or systems are scarce.

Since the people living in these areas depend on agricultural harvest for subsistence and livelihood, they are more vulnerable to the adverse impact of El Nino on their farmlands, Santander pointed out.

With the on-going project, beneficiaries have expressed optimism saying they expected better food sustainability and preparedness to weather the next onslaught of long dry season.

Written by Licinio F. Gingoyon
Written by Licinio F. Gingoyon

colo food
Borbon Folks Embark on Natural Farming to Produce Draught-resilient Farm and Aquatic Products

This wooden box, loosely laminated with water-resistant plastic overlay, is converted into an improvised fishpond to become artificial home to artificially reproduced African catfish.
This wooden box, loosely laminated with water-resistant plastic overlay, is converted into an improvised fishpond to become artificial home to artificially reproduced African catfish.

This young, 16-inch African catfish is part of the broodstock used in the artificial reproduction of the fish species in Barangays Bongtod and Bongtod Goa, in north town Borbon, Cebu.
This young, 16-inch African catfish is part of the broodstock used in the artificial reproduction of the fish species in Barangays Bongtod and Bongtod Goa, in north town Borbon, Cebu.

African catfish (right) is much bigger in size compared to the local catfish species called Pantat (left). The former can grow to maximum of about four feet long while the latter can only have a maximum length one foot.
African catfish (right) is much bigger in size compared to the local catfish species called Pantat (left). The former can grow to maximum of about four feet long while the latter can only have a maximum length one foot.

Standing as a new landmark of Barangay Bongdo is this newly built multi-colored stage which serves as gateway to the village which is envisioned to become one of Borbon’s eco-tourist destinations.

Dr. Silvino Maranga, the founding chairman and chief executive officer of Action for Skills, Knowledge, Education and Wellness Center Corp. (ASKEDWELL).

ASKEDWELL aquaculture technical consultant, Wilfredo Santander, speaks before the audience at Barangay Bongdo Training Center in Borbon, Cebu during the ocular visit of DOST 7 and ASKEDWELL officials at the barangay project sites.