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The largest certified organic farm in the Philippines was once called “cursed land” – Manila Bulletin

The narrative of Leonie Agri Corporation (LAC) Farms is one that sparks hope. 

The initial 42-hectare land in Nueva Ecija where the farm stands today was formerly believed by the locals to be cursed as it was arid and barren for the longest time.

It has evolved from “cursed” land into a bountiful farm that later expanded and branched out into the provinces of Aurora (91.8 ha), Bataan (30 ha), and Bulacan (20 ha).

It was through “innovative farming technologies, the application of sound ecological management, a community development thrust, and strong ethical values” that made this transformation possible, said Antonio C. Causing, 61, President and CEO of Leonie Agri Corporation. 

LAC Farms, which currently spans a total of 243.8 hectares, established itself as the Philippines’ largest organic-certified farm and manufacturer of natural and organic raw materials. 

From a site that was once covered in cogon and talahib grasses to a land where many crops abound, LAC Farms is now committed to practicing “organic agriculture and environment-friendly methods to rehabilitate, improve, maintain, and sustain its operations.”   

Its origin

The farm was built primarily to provide raw materials to its parent company, Pascual Laboratories, Inc. (PascualLab), a producer of herbal products such as ASCOF Lagundi and RE-LEAF Sambong. As it grew, it also aimed to achieve more, such as improving the quality of life of local communities and functioning as a source of organic raw materials for both domestic and foreign markets.

LAC, PascualLab’s subsidiary, describes itself as an “agriceutical company that produces and processes organic agricultural products for medicinal, health, and nutritional purposes. LAC’s agriceutical concept means integrating organic agricultural methods with pharmaceutical industry standards.”

The CEO and President of LAC revealed that he also enjoys farming. He told Agriculture Online, “I grew up in Mindanao, where I used to manage our own farm and was exposed to agriculture. My interest in farming/agriculture stemmed from my travels abroad, where I had the opportunity to visit agricultural areas and witness their efficiency and productivity. I was challenged and inspired to also do it here in our country.”

A producer of medicinal herbs and more

While there are a myriad of herbal plants, fruit trees, and vegetables grown on-site, LAC Farms mainly focuses on and specializes in these three: lagundi, malunggay, and sambong. 

The farm not only provides natural and organic products but also houses a carabao, and numerous goats that contribute to its biodiversity and sustainability. For instance, goats are used in current grazing operations and are effective at reducing weed and bush growth.

The methods behind the farm’s success are no different. Among them is overhead irrigation. “This is used to ensure the best irrigation at night or for plants to better absorb [water], unlike in the morning, when there is sunlight, which makes water prone to evaporation.”

They also perform mulching to reduce weeds. “The decomposed mulching materials will become fertilizers, which then help in improving the soil structure.”

Shading nets are also installed to reduce the sunlight’s intensity and stress on crops. This is said to result in better quality harvests. 

The land may be regarded as “cursed” by some, but it proved how one space can be transformed into something fruitful when valued. 

Photos courtesy of Leonie Agri Corporation

For more information, visit Leonie Agri Corporation

Read more about farming and gardening at agriculture.com.ph

 

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