DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The number of farmers in Davao City is decreasing in the midst of high demands on crop production for local and international consumption.
This was the finding of the recent study conducted by the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) on climate resilient agriculture in Mindanao.
AdDU’s University Research Council (URC) conducted the research through Geo-mapping and Land Suitability Assessment for Climate Change resilient communities to identify possible areas in Mindanao for agricultural expansion.
Among the alarming finding of the URC research indicated that many farmers now dwell on planting cash crops, to include Durian, Mangosteen and other fruit-bearing trees for export production.
The result also said that farmers allow or in some cases, forced to let companies rent their land for plantation use.
URC also found out cases where farmers abandon their farms and turn themselves into agricultural or industrial workers.
Other findings in URC research are:
1. Farmers only grow crops through soil conditioners, both organic and synthetic;
2. Farmers choose crops based on market demand and trends in the community;
3. Arable land formerly used for corn and vegetable farming have been abandoned due to soil degradation;
4. Abandoned lands have lost soil cover and are prone to erosion, further reducing land productivity;
5. Soil surface had become threatened by climate change;
6. Current cash crops are expected to be affected by rainfall patterns;
7. Cacao is more climate-resilient crop.
In an interview, Leo XL Fuentes, MASIPAG Mindanao Regional Coordinator told Davao Today that the research tends to send a message that the agricultural sector alone has a big contribution on the worsening effect of climate change.
Fuentes identified the effort to industrialize the agricultural sector through the expansion of various plantations of export goods such as banana, pineapple, palm oil, and papaya that is reported to have used different kinds of chemicals that are harmful for humans and the environment.
For instance, Fuentes mentioned that rice farmers are now suffering the impact of the rise of temperature as they lost approximately 12 sacks of rice harvest per hectare. In addition, farmers also lost huge amount of their crops during rainy season as heavy rains also results in flooding and massive erosion to their farmlands.
“These extreme weather events made our farmers become poorer and worst, buried in debt,” Fuentes said.
This situation caused farmers to either sell or pawn their land for them to survive.
For Tony Salubre of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Southern Mindanao, the data is very alarming knowing that the Philippines has a higher demand for its own consumption.
Losing the farmers and their farmland would reflect on poor government assistance for the farmers to survive, Salubre added.
He also stressed that the effect of climate change to the agricultural sector has worsened the situation especially that the government has no concrete action and support for sustainable agriculture in the country.
KMP added that instead of keeping an eye in the development of farmers’ capacity and capability to serve the needs of the Filipino people and made sure that the country will not starve, “the government is busy in opening the lands of the people for investments and non-agricultural use.”
In Davao region alone, conversion of agricultural lands into banana plantations have been multiplying while in some parts of Mindanao, farmers convert their rice and corn fields into coffee, palm oil, and other export products.
The entry of mining firms and the mushrooming of subdivision and residential areas for profit will eventually erase farming as a livelihood for many Filipino, Salubre said.
Meanwhile, Noel Provido, the communications chief of the Departement of Agriculture in Davao Region (DA-11) said the government has made interventions to keep the farming industry active.
Among the intervention, Provido said, is the allocation of the huge amount of budget to push farm mechanization to attract the new generation of farmers.
Through farm mechanization, he added, the younger generation would appreciate farming as the vital sector in the country feeding millions of Filipinos.
The agriculture department sees the mechanization effort as a way of lowering the cost of production of rice and corn and the means of keeping younger farmers in the workforce.
The agency also designed an agri-tourism program that will push and highlight the agriculture sector and gain additional revenue for farmers.
“We want our younger generation to appreciate farming and eventually start to become part of the agriculture sector in the country. This will surely help revitalized our farming industry and hopefully, in the future, we can gain from it,” Provido said.
On the other hand, KMP said the agriculture sector would only have an active output on crop production “if the government would initiate the distribution of land to Filipino farmers.” (davaotoday.com)