DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A year after installing themselves as rightful land owners, several members of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (MARBAI) are enjoying the fruits of their collective farming efforts.
At the 145-hectare San Isidro farm area inside the former Hijo Plantation operated by the Lapanday Foods Corporation in Tagum City, Cesar Paloma and 10 other beneficiaries collectively till their 7 hectare-share of the banana farm.
Calling themselves as a “group of collective farmers” or CF, Paloma and his group had already earned more than what they used to earn back when they were tilling their lots separately.
They can now sell a minimum of 300 boxes of bananas after 11 weeks of production at a price of P110 per kilogram.
“We see a more productive output if we work together as a collective just like how we did it in reclaiming this land,” said Paloma, 66.
According to another beneficiary who asked not to be named said, “We are very happy with our current income. We can send our children to school and even provide things they wanted because we earn enough without any debt to any company.”
CF members said they each earn at least P6,000 every harvest, depending on the bulk and price of the banana in the market.
Paloma has 4 children, his youngest a 7-year-old boy whom he always brings with him in their collective farm.
His youngest son was his inspiration way back when they were still struggling to reclaim the land and the “assertion of social justice.”
He said that it is for his family’s future why he never gave up the struggle amidst the harassment and threats they experienced in the hands of the Lapanday company and its armed guards.
“I have nothing but this land. Even if I am too old to farm, I will keep farming because I need to support my family, I need to send my son to school. This land is not just an ordinary land but a fruit of our hard and collective work. If I die, I am proud to leave my legacy to my son,” said Paloma.
CF also recognized the contribution of the different organizations who helped and supported them in reclaiming their land.
Recently, they opened their doors to Lumad evacuees who were displaced due to militarization.
A portion of their land has become a sanctuary for 300 individuals from Talaingod in Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley.
The CF group provided work for them in growing banana and vegetables. (davaotoday.com)