Cagdianao Mine finds inspiring alternative to rice

Reprinted from Business Mirror

In mining communities, the challenge has always been growing value crops in lateritic areas where the soil naturally lacks enough nutrients for them to propagate.

So, imagine the excitement at Cagdianao Mining Corp. (CMC), when sorghum, an ideal alternative to rice, starts propagating in a mined-out area.

The excitement about sorghum is shared by farmers from all over the world who think sorghum adds optimism for the industry, that despite the pandemic that stifled many commodities, exports and revenue are strong for grain sorghum.

At CMC, with operations in barangay Valencia, Dinagat Islands, value crops are successfully grown in lateritic soil such as – onions, cauliflower, carrots, lettuce and radish; and fruits such as papaya, dragon fruit, etc. But not without aggressive intervention, applying scientifically-proven agricultural processes to improve the soil nutrients in mining areas. The growing of sorghum in CMC’s mined-out area is the company’s most recent accomplishment.

CMC, a subsidiary of Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC), proudly claims that the company has its very own and dedicated agriculturist in Jessie Dagami Dumanig – a proof that as a mining company, CMC takes agriculture very seriously.

The idea of sorghum growing came to Jessie’s immediate boss, Marine Biologist Phoebe Jean G. Alac, CMC’s Environmental Manager, who started looking for seedling for other value crops when the availability of seedlings for rice became hard to come by due to the pandemic.

“The uncertainty the pandemic has brought to the communities compelled farmers to re-assess their farming techniques to ensure food security for their family, so the circulation of the seedlings became a bit controlled and were kept in smaller groups. We had to look for alternatives, and sorghum is perfect,” Alac explains

Sorghum seeds are easily available and there is an abundance of supply available to anyone.

“We want alternatives to rice and sorghum saved the day. Sorghum is rich in fiber, protein and calcium, it’s good for the heart and bones and easy to grow and can be planted all year round with less water requirement,” Dumanig excitedly shares.

The Department of Agriculture is currently campaign for farmers to grow crops with market potential to raise their incomes and to address the threat to food security.

“Especially because of the pandemic, CMC has stepped up its efforts to protect food security by encouraging the people in the mining communities to consider high-value crops. Sorghum is good because it can withstand heat and the dry season plus it is in demand even in international markets so we are promoting this in the communities” says Engr. Arnilo C. Milaor, Resident Mine Manager for CMC.

Milaor says CMC is introducing sorghum to the communities by showcasing how the mining company is growing them its mined-out areas.

“Sorghum has no season, its grows all year round, it does not need special irrigation, the rain is enough, our only problem are the birds who love to feast on them,” says Milaor.

Dumanig is also introducing to the communities the concept of calendar farming.

“This basically means farmers would shift from being supply-oriented to demand-driven, planting and harvest will be paced accordingly to ensure continues supply of rice and/or sorghum grains plus there be income from other crops because the soil is healthy enough to yield the entire year,” explains Dumanig.

CMC is excited to promote sorghum in the communities.

“It has less sugar content compared to rice and corn, so it’s healthier. It will be in-demand soon when more people learn of its benefits, so that means good income for the farmers,” shares Dumanig.

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