MANILA, Philippines – Green as far as the eye can see. This is what greets farmers every day at the Leonie Agri Corp. (LAC) farm, a 42-hectare verdant tract in the northern Nueva Ecija town of Sta. Rosa.
Look closely and you will see among the plants are sambong and lagundi. This is where parent company Pascual Laboratories has been sourcing the medicinal plants for its Releaf and Ascof brands, respectively — herbal products which won Silver Awards at the 25th International Exhibition for Inventions, New Techniques and Products in Geneva, Switzerland in 1997.
Sambong and lagundi leaves are harvested and pre-processed into herbal raw materials right on the farm — in a facility which conforms to pharmaceutical manufacturing standards.
The leaves undergo washing and spin-drying, oven-drying, milling, sterilization and then packaging. The stringent quality control methods meet the regulations of the Bureau of Food and Drugs. Pascual Laboratories handles the validation of the results.
In line with the LAC’s mission to promote healthcare by producing organically grown medicinal herbal raw materials and agricultural products, crops on the farm are cultivated sans pesticides and synthetic chemicals. Other organic practices include composting and vermiculture.
The LAC is certified by the Organic Certification Center of the Philippines as the first organic farm in the country and is a member of the Organic Producers Trade Association of the Philippines.
LAC president Guillermo Saret recalls that the land was not always this fertile. The townsfolk used to call it lupang sinumpa (cursed land) because it was barren, save for weeds such as talahib and cogon — indicators of the soil’s acidity.
But when the farmers discovered a swamp beside the farm and transformed it into an irrigation system, a remarkable increase in organic matter and soil nutrients turned the land into lupang pangako (blessed land).
Today, aside from medicinal plants, the LAC farm also produces a slew of internationally recognized products and has also expanded its operations to organic vegetables and livestock.–Philippine Star