Rice Farming, the Garma Way

 A “nagagit” (Ilocano for industrious)  farmer,  simple family man, and successful  agripreneur, that’s  Mang Tomy.
A native of Gossood, Mayantoc, Tarlac, Tomy Garma is a proud farmer.   He takes pride in his contribution to helping others in agriculture, aside of course from increasing his productivity in his farm.  In his 4.25 hectares ( two hectares for rice production, the remaining area is devoted to vegetables, mango and livestock), every space in his farm is planted to all sorts of vegetables and fruits, local herbs and spices and medicinal plants.  Button and other edible mushrooms just sprout in hays left in the field.  Walk along the alleys of his farm and you will have a basketful of veggies.  Choose the only the big tilapia from a net  scoop,  you may have your inihaw, or sinigang (of course, ingredients like ginger, tomatoes and greens are just right there along the fishpond).     
He earns  PhP300,000 annually.  Aside of course, from the harvests by friends and relatives bring home when they pay him a visit.  Now, that is a taste of the fruits of his labor, literally and we can never put the peso value for that. 
He should have been a Civil engineer, but he found out that farming is his calling.  Anyway, he engineered his farm, and did it for the people. 
RPT Cooperator 
In 2008, he became the Cooperator for  Rice Production Technology.  He showcased the method demo for planting one tiller per hill.  “following the technology  lessened the seedling requirement which means less production cost, and gave a better yield.  Now , we know and understand that 20-kg seeds produce more than enough seedlings for one hectare,” he explained.
MS on Organic Rice Production
A Magsasaka Siyentista (MS) for organic rice production, he used 10 bags vermicompost and three bags inorganic fertilizer in 2010.  The 70-cavan yield is really low compared to his normal yield,  but he wanted to see the effect  of using vermicompost.  He opted to go for 100% use of vermicompost in  2012 and yield 102 cavans.  Aside from the good harvest of organically grown rice, his own vermicompost gave a low production cost.
Vermi Producer and User
His vermicomposting  makes use of half  his  32 square meters piggery house provides for both his rice and vegetable production.  Vermiculture and vermicomposting is a regular activity in his farm.  “This is the best way to manage farm waste. Ilagay mo lang diyan, mabubulok na after three months, pwede mo nang gamitin yun.  Wala ka pang gastos.  (Just leave it for three months of composting and its ready to use.  You need not spend anything).  What is important is that we take good care of our soils to make farming sustainable,” he said.
Family Enterprise
“Behind a successful man, is a woman.”  True for Mang Tomy!.  His wife Gina, is all out support for his undertakings.  “Kung wala ako siya na ang gumagawa. Mas marami pa nga siyang ginugugol na oras sa bukid   kesa sa akin eh, ” (In my absence, she’s in-charge.  In fact, she spends more time in the farm, than I do) he quipped.  Gina is also an active RIC member who shares nutritious recipes with other mothers.  Her years of experience in organic crop production made her qualify to be a resource person on Organic Agriculture.  Their six children also helped in caring for the vegetables and livestock, after school and during weekends.  Farming is their bonding moment, Mang Tomy proudly said.
The Garma family was a 2011 Gawad Saka Outstanding Family awardee. 
Government Support
New and innovative practices were tested  in his farm. His regular consultations with the Department of Agriculture personnel made him more acquainted to latest practices and technologies.   A familiar name and face in agricultural gatherings,  (private- and government-led meetings, training or exhibits), his willingness to try new technologies helped greatly in continually improving his practices, his farm, and of course, his confidence as an agripreneur.   
It is his way of helping the agricultural sector.  His farm is a showcase of viable and appropriate technologies.  This addresses the usual farmer attitude of “diak pati, diak kita” (I won’t believe unless I’ve seen it).   A greenhouse and a flatbed dryer were among the government support  that he was able to avail of.
“We, the farmers and the government, should continuously find ways to improve our practices for better production and income.  There are still good things in the old practices that we could and should adopt in farming and add the latest technologies that can be adopted in your farm,”  Mang Tomy shared insight.
 “I think he is the one helping us.  Whenever he attends a training, we are sure he will try it in his farm.  Kaya lagi naming siyang ini-invite pag may training.  Actually, he is a great help to us for making available his farm when we need to showcase a good one.  A simple call or text, everything is set,” Provincial Agriculturist Edwina K. Tabamo said.  
Garma Joke to live by
“Pag oras na ng tanghalian, problema na ng mga tao kung ano ang uulamin nila.  Kung ano ang tinda ng nakatricycle na naglalako, dun pa lang nila alam kung ano ang lulutuin nila.  Si misis din,  hindi rin niya alam kung ano ang lulutuin niya… ang dami kasi niyang pagpipilian!”