Organic farming had gained headway in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, and Montevista, Compostela Valley, which both suffered from man-made and natural disasters, the former from armed conflicts and the latter from Typhoon Pablo in December 2012.
Tingintingin, a hinterland barangay seven kilometers south of Kauswagan, is a community devastated by years of armed conflict since it used to be a war field between government troops and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), but which has evolved into a vast plantation of rice, corn, and peanuts.
Malic O. Macabato, village chief, said he and the rest of barangay council members adopted organic farming to support their farmers.
“Farming is the first step to combat hunger and to achieve a peaceful community,” Macabato stated.
Macabato disclosed that two former commanders of the MILF and a commander of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) have become actively involved in organic farming.
Before, the former rebels were engaged in numerous skirmishes and encounters against the military that took a toll on their lives and those of their families. Now, they live peacefully as they are reintegrated into the mainstream society.
He noted that conflict will not erupt if hunger is addressed, especially now that convergence efforts among national and local government agencies and civil society organizations are happening.
Macabato said that 25 members of the Tingintingin Upland Rice Growers Self-Employment Assistance-Kaunlaran Association (SKA) were extended P10,000 loans with zero interest rate by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) under the Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP).
The members used the money they received in growing upland rice.
Aside from upland rice, the farmers also grow corns and peanuts, coconuts, and mung beans. The Department of Agriculture (DA) provided the seeds while the local government unit (LGU) provided a mobile rice mill.
Moreover, the World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and Assisi Development Foundation constructed a solar dryer while the LGU of Kauswagan constructed the storage facilities for the farmers’ produce.
The barangay celebrated its first festival dubbed as Organic Upland Rice Harvest Festival in July.
“Makakasabi talaga ako na kaya namin talaga ang pagbabago dahil sa tulong ng DSWD at iba’t ibang ahensiya ng gobyerno. Ngayon, talagang nasa matuwid na daan kami (I can prove to everyone that we can make a difference because of DSWD and other national government agencies’ interventions. Now, we are on the right path),” Macabato shared.
Likewise, in Montevista, some 120 Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program beneficiaries and ‘Pablo’ survivors are set to reap the rewards of a communal organic farm.
With a majority of their coconut plantations wiped away by ‘Pablo’, the group of coconut farmers organized as the Tapia Organic Farmers’ Association (TOFA), needed new and alternative farming technologies.
DSWD tapped ACES Polytechnic College of Panabo City, an organic farming advocate, to train the TOFA members on organic farming.
SLP provided P10,000 per participant for the Technical Skills Development Authority (TESDA) accredited training, which included food and accommodation for the 60-hour intensive technology honing at the ACES farm in Panabo City.
On the other hand, the local government of Montevista provided TOFA with approximately 10 hectares of land for a communal farm, free of use for the next ten years.
DSWD also encourages its program beneficiaries to engage in backyard gardening to ensure food supply as well as provide a livelihood. To promote this, the concept of bio-intensive gardening (BIG) has been included in the enhanced modules of Family Development Sessions (FDS) attended by Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries.
In the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), and Regions III, V, VI and XI, there are now farmers who supply vegetables to day care centers for the Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP).
SFP is the provision of food in addition to regular meals to currently enrolled day care children as part of the DSWD’s contribution to the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) program of the government.
For 2013, some 1.6 million children benefitted from the program. For 2014, DSWD is targeting 2.4 million children-beneficiaries. ###