“This could take longer but we’re prepared.”
This assurance is uttered by an organic farmer from Malitbog, Bukidnon when asked how are they addressing the impacts of COVID-19.
Eugenio Geraldo, a widower and his 5 children have been practicing agroecology or diversified integrated farming system (DIFS) as it is more popularly known locally for the past 17 years, planting their 3-hectare farm with numerous permanent and seasonal crops and integrating livestock and poultry in it, following a principle that everything works in synergy and food is available 24/7.
His family’s practice of DIFS is more appreciated now by the locals and government officials when their remote municipality of Malitbog implemented a lockdown and home quarantine measures in response to COVID-19 crisis. The local government encourages its people to consume vegetables and locally-produced foods. Where did they turn to? Of course to Eugenio and to the members of TSAFO or Tomigbong Sustainable Agriculture Farmer’s Organization – where he, his family and their neighbors proudly established years ago.
Another farmer’s organization, MISFA, is also doing the same programs with TSAFO.
By selling his vegetables alone at the local market, Eunie, as he is fondly called by the people is gaining PhP 2,000.00 a week, creating a positive impulse among the farmers and consumers. He and the members of TSAFO are also considering now to sell their organic produce directly to the consumers in the neighboring municipality of Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.
It can be said that sharing is in his blood. He taught his youngest daughter, Lourdes, about rice breeding when she was 6 years old, making her the youngest rice breeder in the Philippines. And together, this father and daughter tandem, voluntary teaches the high school students in Malitbog about organic farming for almost two years now under the “Gulayan sa Paaralan Program” of the Department of Education.
COVID-19 has put the world to a standstill, seriously affecting the movements of goods, and forcing us to stay at home. This generally hampered our usual way of thinking, moving, consuming, working and doing business. But, it’s good to recognize on the other hand, that there is now an emerging model built on agroecology that is gaining a momentum at the local level, offering much better opportunities to the small-scale farmers like Eunie and the millions of others out there.
Photo Credits: Geonathan Barro, Bobby Timonera, Christof Seiler and Roger Busslinger