“WHEN we are not busy tending to our children on an ordinary day, you will find us in our FAITH garden, making our day worth with our chemical-free vegetables,” says Angelita Manangan, chair of Talomo River Women’s Organization in Calinan District, Davao City.
This women’s organization is a member of a farmer’s federation with a peculiar but apt name called “Kababaehang Nagtataglay ng Bihirang Lakas” (Women possessing extraordinary powers or strength) in Barangay Los Amigos, Tugbok District, Davao City.
Anita “Nena” Morales, executive director of Metsa Foundation in Los Amigos, said there are 14 women farmer’s organization that are members of the federation practicing organic farming in the whole Tugbok District.
These organizations that have had 300 individual members are affiliated with the national farmers’ organization called Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura or Masipag, which has been in existence spanning three decades advocating among others organic farming in the Philippines.
It may sound simplistic, but these extra-ordinary women, indeed, are doing what they bannered in their organizational name by ensuring that there is food for their children to eat each day by practicing Faith, which means
Food Always in the Home that is nutritious, healthy and within reach.
Foremost in their minds now is food security, something that the City of Davao has been proud of being the first with a local initiative in 2010 to pass the Organic Agriculture Ordinance ahead of Republic Act 10068 (Organic Agriculture Act of 2010) on the same year.
Moreover, the women also sell their vegetables in City centers along Peoples’ Park and near City Hall every Friday where their certified organic products are available to the public.
Pleasant surprise in one idyllic noonday weekend recently, two members of a foreign funding partner of Masipag Philippines visited the women farmers and exchanged experiences in the field of organic farming.
Julie Anne Smit, project manager for Asia, and Jean Joseph Feyder, member of the board of Action Solidarité Tiers Monde (Third World Solidarity) or ASTM, have listened to the women’s success stories in their pursuit of organic farming and how it has helped their family in many ways.
The visitors also attended the International Conference on People’s Rights in the Philippines held in the city few weeks ago which was attended by over a hundred foreign delegates from different countries around the world.
ASTM is an international non-governmental development in Luxembourg fighting since 1969 for political emancipation, economic and social history of the Third World. It is guided by the conviction that major obstacles to emancipation are located in the centers of economic and political power.
Julie and Jean were happy talking with the women in Talomo Riverside and learning bits about their life in carrying out organic farming. Julie was equally amazed at the Metsa Foundation Center headed by Nena Morales, a long time organic practitioner and woman farmer leader in Davao City, (who is also the widow of deceased former active environmentalist Francis Morales) and the Imulayan Organic Center which is run by farmer Crisostomo Genosas.
Both have been stalwarts in the struggles of MASIPAG since its inception years planting, in the idea of organic farming. Better prospects for Organic Farming Located in the heart of Barangay Los Amigos, Tugbok situated in the third congressional district of Davao City, which is considered an agricultural area, Ms. Morales said there had been 70 percent to 80 percent of inhabitants who are largely engaged in farming.
Of these population, still very few have adopted organic farming, though many people are interested to learn. Thus even with the publicized so called mainstreaming of Bt Corn in the country as claimed by a group involved in the development of biotech in the country, Masipag Mindanao has consistently pursued its advocacy, said Mr. Leo XL Fuentes, the regional coordinator of Masipag-Mindanao.
Despite recent organizational problems that Masipag-Mindanao is confronting, Fuentes said they are standing pat on their advocacies and calls on the new administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to persistently advance a chemical-free agricultural development.
"Dapat baguhin na ang pagsasaka mula sa chemical-based at monocropping patungo sa diversified and integrated farming systems (DIFS), agroecology at organic farming (There is a need to replace an agriculture that is chemical-based and mono-cropping towards a diversified and integrated farming system, agroecology and organic farming)," states Masipag in its recent newsletter.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 15, 2016.
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