In a time when many of us would think for ourselves and families, who would have expected that these four women farmers from Mindanao would do extraordinary act — donating a total of 117 sacks of their farm-fresh organic rice (with a market value of 150,000.00) to the families severely affected by the impacts of COVID-19.
Aside from rice, Belen Apale, Girlyn Pacalioga, Elizabeth Berico and Brenda Maghinay also gave native chicken eggs and vegetables from their own farms and some grocery goods to the most-affected farmers, Senior Citizens and Persons with Disabilities in the municipalities of Molave, Tambulig and Dumingag, Zamboanga Del Sur. They did this by mobilizing their friends, children, and fellow organic farmers.
In the Municipality of Dumingag for instance where Girlyn consistently motivates and organize the organic farmers, the LGU has purchased 523 sacks of organic rice so far directly from the farmers and distributed it already to the most-affected persons who deserves a dignified treatment and a much better relief operations system.
Agro-Eco Philippines has not heard such effort like this over the past years. We did not really expect this one from our members. But we’re not surprised at all recognizing that the values of the organization have long manifested by the actions of these women farmer leaders, and the culture of sharing is vibrant in this part of the country.
Since 2012, these women have been consistent in promoting organic agriculture through various means such as World Food Day, Earth Day, Women’s Day and Human Rights Day Celebrations, and Root Crops Festival. These activities done every year gave birth to a strong provincial movement that strongly influenced the programs and policies of the local government units, creating more benefits and opportunities for the small-scale farmers. Dumingag and Molave have already established organic stores where consumers can directly buy from the farmers, strengthening the local economic activities and the farmer-to-farmer diffusion of knowledge.
Their farming practice built on the principles of #agroecology made them resilient to climate change and now to the impacts of COVID-19. Food is available 24/7 because it is grown in the farm, not purchased from somewhere else. Regular income is assured from a diversified farm managed by a farming family with lots of innovations and entrepreneurial skills. Please watch the video of Girlyn Pacalioga by clicking this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JssRRASQJzw.
Two weeks ago the inspiring story of Teodulo Badillo and his wife Delia, their colleagues from Molave was published by the international development organizations based in Europe for their great deeds of providing the people in their community with nutritious food from their 1-hectare diversified farm. You can hear his interview aired over a national radio in Switzerland by clicking this link: https://bit.ly/2Wc3HFN and you can read more from these links:
Girlyn, Belen, Elizabeth, Brenda and Teodulo lives in a stretch of fertile lands collectively known as Salug Valley, the food basket of Zamboanga Del Sur and Region 9. It is a major growth center of Agro-Eco Philippines in Mindanao. But we fell a little bit short over the years to think that growth can only be measured by the availability of seeds, no. of trial farms established, researches conducted, farm inputs made, and higher yields achieved. Now we’ve came to learn more that there’s a higher level of measuring growth beyond the technical dimension of agriculture. And this is when the farmers have already the capacity and the initiative to help others in a time when such help is needed.
Photo credits: Girlyn Pacalioga, Belen Apale and Geonathan Barro