JHANS Nightcrawlers: Finding new ways in agri innovation
A group of graduates from Benguet State University in La Trinidad, Benguet collectively calling themselves JHANS Cordillera Night Crawlers, came up with a project when they were still in their third year of college to find new ways in agricultural innovation.
Dubbed “Rejuvenating Soil through Vermicomposting,” the project focuses on the use of African night crawler worms to convert agricultural wastes that are abundant in their community into an organic fertilizer called vermicast. Vermicast is considered as an effective input for high value crops in an organic production farming system.
The project is aimed at helping rejuvenate the agricultural farm soils not only for crop production and in yielding income; but at the same time protecting the environment and producing healthier food for the community. Moreover, it is expected to provide alternative livelihood to out-of-school youths aside from providing an avenue for inputs needed in organic production.
According to them, a study conducted in their university showed that the soil in most farming communities in La Trinidad were exposed to excessive application of synthetic chemicals that degraded the quality of agricultural farms. This sparked the interest of the group to try to address this concern and help the community.
“[We] consulted one of our Development Communication mentors in the university Ms. Betty S. Listino regarding the current issues concerning the community and the available technology that can be adapted to solve this problem. During our discussion, [our team’s] interest focused on the problem pertaining to agricultural wastes in the community, especially in the La Trinidad Trading Post,” Noel Lenguaje, a JHANS member said.
With Listino’s guidance and mentorship, the group decided to use a method that can decompose the agri-wastes and bring it back to the soil. Hence, they selected vermicomposting technology to aid the problem.
Carrying on amidst hard times
PLDT-Smart Foundation (PSF) has already released the first tranche that allowed the project to flourish. But just like any start-up venture, the group faced many challenges. Aside from natural calamities, their lack of time resulted to poor business management. “All of us are already working in separate various agencies and some are working outside the region. Thus, it is hard to synchronize our schedule to meet and make plans for the project. It’s good that other members who are available have dedicated to spend their time for the project to work,” Lenguaje said.
With the help of modern technologies, they were able to carry on despite challenging times. They also managed to budget expenses and focused on tangible outputs such as achieving target produce per production and stabilizing identified markets as the vermicast takes time to produce.
The team, thus, expressed their gratitude for the opportunity given to them by PSF and Project Pagsulong.
Aspiring start-up entrepreneurs
The road to success is not easy. It’s a bumpy road where ultimately, there will be times where one can lose hope. The team encourages aspiring start-up entrepreneurs to never give up on their dream – no matter how difficult the circumstance can be. “To the youth, do not be afraid to take challenges. Believe in yourselves [and have faith] that you can accomplish great success like other successful individuals. [Faith in] God [is] instrument to bring out the best in you. All you have to do is take the risk, take the challenge, and be the change!”
Aside from Lenguaje, other members of JHANS Cordillera Night Crawlers are John Waking, Herman Danis, Alima Bedejim and Sherielyn Banglig. CC: