Citronella Farming and the Maputi Preserve Eco Walk! An Afternoon at the Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno Demo Center in Malaybalay Bukidnon!

In my farm travels, I learned that citronella spray naturally keeps the mosquitoes away. We checked out the MKAETDC farm in Malaybalay, Bukidnon for this highly valuable product and had a lovely hike in a shared 22-hectare property of the Gawad Saka Awardee Benjamin Maputi and the Imbayao Multi-Purpose Cooperative (10 hectares of which is a protected area for eco walks). If I had more time here, I would love to hear about the gatekeepers KGV (Kitanglad Guard Volunteers) on horseback, the lumad community, the council of elders and how they manage this protected area of the Kitanglad mountain range and how they train farmers to do sustainable upland farming. MKAETDC was awarded as the "Most Outstanding Farm Family of the Philippines" in 2006. It's among the "renowned demonstration farms in the country" for its sustainable integrated farming with environmental protection and forest propagation practices.

mkaetdc.jpg

I read in the Malaybalay City website that they do following activities here in MKDAETDC: contour farming, cut-flower production, farming site orchards, fish pond, frog pond, bamboo plantation, livestock production, herbarium, vermi composting, organic farming, free range chicken, organic swine, rain forestation, essential oil production distillation area, abaca stripping and drying area, seedling nursery, functional material recovery facility, training and display center and eco-park natural forest. We didn't get to see some of them though due to the bad weather that was coming in the afternoon and the drought that damaged the crops.

farm-stay-bukidnon-philippines.jpg 

farm-stay-bukidnon-philippines.jpg 

We were supposed to stay overnight but the rain was coming so we stayed near the city highway for accommodations. Our van might get stuck if it was too muddy and we would not make it to our flight the next day. Wheeled luggage is not recommended here (I injured my arm this way..). I still liked this upland farm experience particularly the last two (Binahon and Maputi farms) with the emphasis on forest preservation and inclusive to the local culture of indigenous people. These are the only ones so far I've been to with this setting. What a great way to end my CDO-Bukidnon farm trip...

farm-stay-bukidnon-philippines.jpg 

farm-stay-bukidnon-philippines.jpg 

The accommodations are al fresco dorm bunk-bed style in the farmers training center (with one bathroom around a few meters away outside).

farm-stay-bukidnon-philippines.jpg 

From the Binahon Farm in Malaybalay, we got here in an hour in time for lunch.

farm-stay-bukidnon-philippines.jpg 

This was the first time I saw this kind of red murado banana, they said it's packed with more minerals and healthier than the regular bananas in the market. Our meal was pretty simple with fish, veggies and a big pot of mild spicy tinola. The El Nino phenomenon in the Philippines up to the midyear took a toll on their vegetable production.

farm-stay-bukidnon-philippines.jpg 

farm-stay-bukidnon-philippines.jpg 

farm-stay-bukidnon-philippines.jpg 

farm-stay-bukidnon-philippines.jpg 

farm-stay-bukidnon-philippines.jpg

Here we met Mr. Benjamin Maputi. He was a pretty cheerful farmer utterly grateful for the assistance that the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) provided him.

farming-bukidnon.jpg 

He took us to the passionfruit area first and kinda helped picked some ripe yellowish ones. Hehe.

passion-fruit-farming-bukidnon.jpg

farming-bukidnon.jpg 

passion-fruit-farming-bukidnon.jpg

mkaetdc.jpg 

Their main productions include citronella and eucalyptus oils for perfumery. They actually supply a big retailer (H.N.) for their needs like to use in their insect repellants. The plant goes through a distillation chamber or boiler to extract the essential oils. Its operation is being assisted by the Local Government of Malaybalay, the Department of Science and Technology, the Philippine Federation for Environmental Concern, the Protected Area Management Board, and the Imbayao Multi-Purpose Cooperative.

farming-bukidnon.jpg 

We went thru alleyways like this in the property, most of which I think just goes along with the natural topography and slope of their land.

farming-bukidnon.jpg 

farming-bukidnon.jpg 

maputi-benjamin.jpg 

There's a mini viewpoint area made of light materials.

maputi-benjamin.jpg 

maputi-benjamin.jpg 

maputi-benjamin.jpg 

maputi-benjamin.jpg 

maputi-benjamin.jpg 

They have a chicken coop and they retrofitted bamboo as a water feeding station.

maputi-benjamin.jpg 

maputi-benjamin.jpg 

Fortune plants lined the trail to guide you, esp. when you get lost. This later proved very useful for me coz I was lagging behind in the forest and couldn't see the people in front of me anymore hehe.

kitanglad-bukidnon.jpg 

We then got to the pond where edible frogs hang out. At night, they just open one light to attract and trap insects, and as a form of pest control.

kitanglad-bukidnon.jpg 

kitanglad-bukidnon.jpg 

When there's water shortage, priority is given to the nursery.

kitanglad-bukidnon.jpg 

kitanglad-bukidnon.jpg 

kitanglad-bukidnon.jpg 

They also have coffee, most likely the highland type.

kitanglad-bukidnon.jpg 

kitanglad-bukidnon.jpg 

I found the fortune plant pretty ornamental, especially the colorful ones with full leaves. And then there were the tall trees and ferns ;)

benjamin-maputi.jpg 

benjamin-maputi.jpg 

Did you know that pure citronella grass oil can fetch up to P1200 per liter? Eucalyptus oil goes up to P1500 per liter. Maybe even more if they do some value addition. I bought a small bottle of very potent insect spray here for P100 and it's smell really sticks well, I don't really know how to store it properly up to now (even after 2 ziplocs) haha.

benjamin-maputi.jpg 

 This is their makeshift rainshelter.

benjamin-maputi.jpg 

Mr. Maputi has this milder smelling plant related to citronella.

benjamin-maputi.jpg 

I thought our workout was done but apparently, there's another exciting part in store for us. For outdoor enthusiasts, you can either do some bird watching (take the Maputi Preserve birding trail), camping or try the farm eco walk and visit the lumad ritual ground like us.

benjamin-maputi.jpg 

benjamin-maputi.jpg 

Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno Demo Center.jpg 

I highly suggest gloves or long sleeves here, shoes and pants or leggings tucked in the socks for ants and other insects. Do eat also before and bring water of you get thirsty easily, also a flashlight maybe in case it gets dark.

Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno Demo Center.jpg 

Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno Demo Center.jpg 

Hectares of natural forest is preserved here for educational purposes.

Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno Demo Center.jpg 

They have nameplates for trees with their common uses. They do need a little brushing up though.

Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno Demo Center.jpg 

Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno Demo Center.jpg 

Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno Demo Center.jpg 

Mt. Kitanglad Agri-Ecological Techno Demo Center.jpg 

We got to the ritual ground minutes into our slow walk. Mr. Maputi said that 2 lumad barangays gather here every full moon in December and they celebrate this thanksgiving culture with offers of chicken, pigs and many more. He said they kinda just converge here on their own and everyone can tell when without any calendar. Kinda reminded me of Twilight Bella and the Cullen family (amazing senses they have) hehe. Check out this article for more.

maputi-trail-bukidnon.jpg

It was drizzling for a bit but we couldn't actually feel it in this rainforest. The trail was also shaded with just enough tall trees. I savored our mini hike and there's truly no place like this in the city. I think they do deserve the most well-maintained ecopark award for their efforts.

maputi-trail-bukidnon.jpg 

maputi-trail-bukidnon.jpg 

maputi-trail-bukidnon.jpg 

I felt like the trail was easy and I was free to roam at my own pace, so unlike my previous hikes.

maputi-trail-bukidnon.jpg 

maputi-trail-bukidnon.jpg 

Sure there were some challenges, like I double injured my luggage arm here when I slipped to the left while hanging on to a vine.

maputi-trail-bukidnon.jpg 

Something like this... But I just kept on going happily and being more mindful for some reason.

maputi-trail-bukidnon.jpg 

maputi-reserve.jpg 

There's an ancient banyan tree here (if I'm not mistaken) and again, made me think of Avatar and how the forest was energizing me with every step and every breath.

maputi-reserve.jpg 

maputi-reserve.jpg 

I lost them for a bit and reached this clearing thanks to the fortune plants. I think they were preparing this area for cultivation. I caught a glimpse of one person who told me we were almost finished.

maputi-reserve.jpg 

maputi-reserve.jpg 

 I came across more rows of citronella and the tea tree plantation.

mkaetdc.jpg 

I looked back and saw that the fog was already catching up to me and covering the forest trail I just left behind.

mkaetdc.jpg

mkaetdc.jpg 

They said we walked around 3 kilometers out of the 22 hectares in 1.5 hours hehe. Phew! We came back another way and got out of there so fast before La Nina showered them with the needed water for their crops.

mkaetdc.jpg 

mkaetdc-address-map.jpg

Here are other places like the Monastery of Transfiguration that you may want to visit in Malaybalay.

Other interesting reads on this farm and the Binahon Agro-Forest Farm here and here ;)

Farm Details:
Sitio Sinaburan, Imbayao,
Malaybalay City, Bukidnon,
Philippines
Facebook


To visit the different ATI-assisted projects (Organic Farming Learning Sites), you can drop by or ask the ATI Regional Training Center nearest you or inquire through:
Call -
982AGRI (982-2474) for Metro Manila calls
1-800-10-982AGRI (1-800-10-9822474) for provincial toll-free calls using PLDT landlines
Text -
For Smart and Talk & Text Subscribers, send a message to 391-DA (391-32). 
For non-Smart Subscribers, send a message to 0920-946AGRI (0920-9462474).

No Comments Yet, Leave Yours!

Hi. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I'd love to hear from you =)