Last Saturday, October 20th, marks a very heartwarming event in the development of agricultural practice among our farmers in Davao City. An Organic Food Festival was held at the Mintal Gym participated in by all-women farmers groups coming from agricultural communities in the environs of the City of Davao, mostly around the Calinan and Marilog district areas.
It was noteworthy in two particular characteristics, namely: that it signaled a growing consciousness among the farmers sector about the general situation of agricultural food production in the country. In its humble beginning organic farming is paving the way towards the emancipation of the farming sector from the stranglehold of chemicals-dependent agriculture. It challenges the present noxious practice in Philippine agriculture that relies on the heavy inputs of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
And interestingly, it uplifts the spirit to know that here in this little spot of the agricultural map, it is women farmers groups and organizations who are in the forefront of the challenge. Truly, the movement for the promotion and growth of the practice of organic farming methods in Davao has been due to the steadfast commitment and zealous efforts of the women farmers.
The Organic Food Festival was a demonstration of women’s tenacity in pursuing what they have found to be the most feasible and most reliable path in resolving the day-today scourges of poverty and health problems. They didn’t spend a single centavo as capital for their organic farming endeavor. They only had to harness their latent energy and put in their sustained hard work through all the days of the weeks and months and years that it took the rewards of their labor to bear fruit. Indeed, this is a salutary undertaking and deserves compliments to the strength of the so-called women power.
‘Unsung heroines’ are these admirable women’s groups. Their lives have been transformed by the significant shift they made in their farming practice in the same breath that they have transformed the quality of the farm products they have heretofore produced.
Julieta Linogan, leader of Awi Women’s Association, happily revealed how organic farming has improved much her family’s quality of life not only in terms of her ability to provide for her family’s daily basic needs but also in the realization that what she has embarked into is an undertaking that contributes to a sound environment and a healthy household and community.
“Karon dili na man ko mawad-an og ginagmayng kwarta, kay makabaligya man kog mga gulayon kaduha sa uska semana, gawas pa nga dili na problema ang pagkaon namo sa adlaw-adlaw . Naa pa gyud koy herbal garden nga makatabang sa kahimsog sa among panglawas.” [Now, I am not out of petty cash because I market my vegetables twice a week and our daily foods is no longer a problem. I also have a herbal garden which is very helpful in maintaining our health .]
Julieta is a remarkable woman, She is the president of the women’s organization in Awi which is part of barangay Malanga, Marilog District, Davao City. And she is also the “shepherd of her flock” as a lady minister of the Jesus Is Lord church in her place. Her only daughter is also very active in the Awi Women’s Association, one of the 21 people’s organizations that participated in the Organic Food Festival advocating for organic farming.
Enalyn Flores Basarte, leader of another women’s group, the Masupit Women’s Association , is satisfied with her present status as a woman farmer. She said that there’s no farming method like organic farming. Explaining further how she evaluates her present situation compared to their family life before she adopted organic farming, she stressed -,
“Dako kaayog kalahian ang organikong pang-uma kun ikumpara sa kaniadtong naggamit pa mig pertilayser. Ang among gamayng uma kaniadto ginatamnan namog mais kada tulo ka bulan. Sa 20 ka sakong abot, mokita tuod mig P4,000, pero ang bayronon sa kemikal mokabat man sad og kapin sa tres mil. pesos. And mahabilin intawon nga kapin sa dos sientos dili maabtag uska buwan.Busa wa gyud mi nahot sulod sa tibuok panahon sa di pa makasanggi og usab.” [There’s a big difference between organic farming and the old practice whereby we used chemical fertilizer. Our small farm which was planted to corn would yield harvest every three months. With around 20 sacks per harvest we earned close to P4,000, but we had to pay more than P3,000 for the chemical input. What remained was a little over P200 which would be all gone before one month. And so we were penniless for the rest of the period until the next harvest.”
Somewhere at another time in an informal gathering at a nearby cooperative store in Bago Aplaya where I reside, I overheard a household consumer complaining after my wife explained the immeasurable advantages of organic rice, “O lagi, way kalupig anang organic rice. Pero unsaong di man ta kapalit ana kay mahal kaayo!“ [That’s true, organic rice is da best. But how can the ordinary people like us afford to buy when it is also very dear?”]
And I couldn’t restrain myself and gave my piece of mind. Yes, because of its rarity, organic rice is relatively more costly than the commercial rice. But if the government has had enough sense and seriously promoted the adoption of organic farming in our agricultural country, we wouldn’t have had this deplorable problem of lack of healthful food supply such as organic rice for our people. What it does, however, is pay lip service to organic farming, but is halfhearted in pursuing a thorough program of organic rice production.
The real reason for this is its compliance to the impositions or dictates of the manufacturers of chemical inputs to rice agriculture. There’s no way organic agriculture can be adopted in a country whose government is hostage to foreign monopoly-capitalist producers of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and other chemical inputs to commercial rice farming. This is the price we pay for the puppetry of our government to US imperialism—our leadership’s subservience to foreign monopoly capitalists who control our industries, from food production to pharmaceuticals to construction materials to steel production to mineral extraction.
If all the strategic industries of our country are owned and controlled by the foreign imperialists, what development can the people ever hope for? Even the much vaunted Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program or CARP is a big hoax! This is truly a “lip service government” in all its policies, programs and undertakings.
Organic farming should have been the ideal mode of production in our agricultural economy. But the historical path taken by our puppet government has led our country to disastrous consequences. Short of that ideal, a group of progressive Filipino farmers together with concerned nationalist scientists bonded themselves together into the MASIPAG (Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura) and spearheaded a movement to propagate organic farming.
MASIPAG’s painstaking task of educating and organizing farmers to follow the path of organic agriculture has caused the sprouting of women’s farmer groups in Davao rural areas. The women farmers by their own initiatives and efforts have gone as far as to organize the Organic Food Festival in Mintal last October 20. Their bubbling enthusiasm can pave the way towards creating an environment that would serve to uplift their own economic well-being. And in so doing, they also give us a glimpse of a portrait of an ideal future farming community, free from the hazards of poisonous chemicals and all deleterious malpractices of imperialist-endorsed commercial agriculture.