By MYRAH G. ACUZAR and ROXAN VEE G. TAMPOS
Davao Today interns
DAVAO CITY – The local government unit of a town in Zamboanga del Sur turned over 2,000 kilos of organic rice seeds and vegetable seeds to Manobo evacuees here in an activity facilitated by environmental groups.
Dumingag Mayor Jun Pacoliaga said his town supports efforts of Manobos under the Salugpungan ta tanu Igkanugon to cultivate back their farms using environmentally safe practices.
The Salugpungan leaders held a ritual where LGU members dipped their finger in a cut chicken to symbolize their solidarity.
“We would want to help install back sustainable farming in Talaingod after the damage typhoon Pablo left,” Pacoliaga said.
Balsa Mindanao executive director Francis Morales said the seeds which were turned over to the Manobo evacuees were organically grown Pandan rice variety; it was transported for 17 hours from Zamboanga del Sur.
The Manobos have cultivated its own variety of upland rice.
Pacalioga described Dumingag as one of the poorest towns in the country, with 93% of the 45,000 population living below poverty line, and situated away from the coast.
But seeing the town’s potential for agriculture, he said the LGU adapted a sustainable agriculture program in 2007 to uplift the people through farming.
He batted for organic farming to promote self-reliance. Aside from this, he said the LGU discouraged constituents to engage in vices such as gambling to focus on more productive efforts.
Pacalioga also said the LGU has been unanimous in opposing mining operations, in spite of reports of mining interests in neighboring towns.
“Taliwala sa among kapobrehon, wa jud namo hilabti ang natural resources sa among kayutaan (In spite of poverty, we never allowed our natural resources to be touched),” he said.
Pacalioga said his experience taught him that development is through empowerment of communities.
“Development is not marked by having a Jollibee or SM in your place, but it’s when people have power on their livelihood,” he said.
The LGU supported the environmental group MASIPAG’s “Seed for Life” project to promote sustainable agriculture among communities.
MASIPAG Mindanao coordinator Bobby Pagusara said the group envisions food sovereignty for communities.
“We want to teach the farmers not to always buy seeds from agrochemical companies; instead we teach them to cultivate their own seeds so that they can have power over their products,” Pagusara said.
He also commended the lumads for their heroic acts in protecting the biodiversity-rich Pantaron Range.
“Perhaps we should also push not just food sovereignty but tribal sovereignty so that Lumads can truly dictate what they want,” Pagusara said.(davaotoday.com)