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Monday, April 22, 2024

Promote Sustainable Agriculture Not Conventional

Kim’s Dream Orlan Ravanera

With the skyrocketing prices of farm inputs especially petroleum-based fertilizers, the poor farmers have no choice but to seek for alternative farming technologies which are not tied-up to conventional agriculture to make their farming sustainable.

The pitiful plight of the peasantry was once aptly described by a former top agriculture official that, “everyone is profiting from farming most particularly the fertilizer dealers and local compradors but not those who are doing the back breaking job of farming under the excruciating heat of the sun.”

Indeed, farming in the Philippines is characterized by basic contradictions of food coming from the farmers’ backyard, yet their dining tables are falling short of it; or of farmers producing the agricultural wealth of the nation, yet finding themselves living in dire poverty.

Such being the case, we have to find ways to make farming profitable in an agricultural country blest with so much natural endowments. That has become now an imperative task knowing that the long-term development can be won or lost through agriculture. This is so because 75% of our people are in the rural areas engaged in livelihoods which are directly or indirectly agriculture-related, not to mention that agriculture earns for the country two-thirds of its total export receipts.

How can we reverse increasing poverty trends especially in the rural areas so much so that people are trekking to the cities and in effect, filling-up the slum areas? How do we stop our accelerating drive towards ecological disasters as heavy usage of chemical fertilizers and pesticides continues to pollute the land, penetrating the water tables and in effect, jeopardizing the health of the people? The answer is to make farming a sustainable way of life absolutely trusting in the innate processes of nature, giving high adherence to Mother Earth (Gaia) for such is the reflection of the Creator who wondrously communicates with us through natural laws that exemplify the oneness of all His creations.

Such is what the Doalnara Restoration Society Philippines Multi-Purpose Cooperative has been doing for more than a decade now, and in the process, contribute to heal the wounds of Mother Earth and those of her children.

Unknown to many, nestled afoot the slopes of the majesty of Mr. Balatukan, Mt. Sumagaya and Mt. Lumot at Sitio San Roque, Aposakahoy, Claveria, Misamis Oriental is a community of more than 200 families, doing absolutely organic farming and living the cooperative way of life.

With the vision of becoming a model community “where the people are happily living together as one family, no fighting, healthy and progressing, the Doalnara Cooperative began in early 1994, settling in an abandoned land called the “killing fields” during the 80’s at the height of ideological conflict in the hinterlands.

That the land is now very productive is decidedly a manifestation of the community’s deep spirituality to uphold the global campaign for environmental restoration of the deteriorating ecology. The once abandoned land is now teeming with various crops such as tomatoes, lettuce, cacti in greenhouses and most importantly “YACON” that is gaining popularity as “an ingredient in diet, diabetes and colon-related health food products.”

What makes Doalnara farming different is its “complete rejection of the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicide as “only natural by-products are used to improve plant growth and fruition.”

When we visited Doalnara together with ABCCA Chief Executive Officer Dr. Soc Anthony del Rosario, we had this conclusion then that “if humanity has to be saved from doom, development must be in harmony with nature and not at its own expense.” Doalnara is now showing the way, living in their truest sense, the spirit environmentalism and cooperativism.

I am sure that what Doalnara does now in its solitude amidst the hinterlands of Misamis Oriental will be echoed tomorrow by the multitude, if we have to make life better for the poor but struggling peasantry.


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