My Iligan

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Albagan’s past…

The condition in Albagan, depicts that of Mt. Matutum, it was told that in the past, had lush forest and wild animals. It is now has three hectares of forestland and eight hectares of plantation forest, this was brought about by the illegal logging of forest trees and worsen by kaingin, the slash and burn way of farmers. The natural springs were not spared resulting to gradual drying up, which threatened the water sources, adding to this was the El NiƱo phenomenon hitting the village.

Majesty amidst devastation…

Mt. Matutum, which stands at 2,086 meters overlooking the South Cotabato-Sarangani-General Santos growth area in Southern Philippines. It was declared in 1964 as a forest reserve to protect 14,008 hectares of its forest cover from illegal logging, timber poaching, hunting, and other destructive activities. It was March 1995 declared as a protected landscape as a way of safeguarding the integrity of the traditional interaction between people and nature that, over time, has produced an area of distinct character with significant aesthetic, ecological and cultural value.

During the early part of the 1940s, settlers from various parts of the country came to Albagan through the National Land Settlement Administration that facilitated their settlement. Logging concession, that granted timber companies to cut trees in commercial volume, followed in the 1960s. Later when concessionaires abandoned their logged areas, it became a rehabilitation site with government pouring in social, economic and infrastructure support.

Evolution of a village-based enterprise…

In October 2001, the UDP came after a series of activities following the sustainable community development process; an upland barangay association was organized.The association came up with the community watershed plan as their basis to pursue development and environmental management work in the village. The village enterprise development project was implemented through the Mahintana Foundation, Inc. As a result of an organizational diagnosis, the association was able to define their respective roles and identify various potential village enterprises and prioritized seedling production and marketing.After the business planning, MFI engaged the village into the production of indigenous species such as Lawaan, Bakan, Nato, Hindang, Igem, among other. They did not find it difficult to produce seedling, however, the only buyer for their seedlings is the same service provider assisting them. In this sense they are defenseless against the MFI when it decides to stop buying; either by environmental excuses or sudden change of preference. On the other hand, data on the market reveal that there may be a large market apart from the MFI that waits to be tapped.

A need for alternatives…

Seedling production and marketing is viable for Albagan. However, demand for indigenous seedlings is highly seasonal and dependent to the whims of buyers. Although it is a good enterprise, it is deemed that other activities must be done on the side in preparation for lean period. The communities must therefore diversify to survive trying times.



Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tagaytay’s tracks and motivating profile...

The village is reached trekking the slippery ridge, surrounded with mountains, and nine rivers, sixteen creeks and thirteen springs crisscrossing the area. Tagaytay has hundreds of hectares of rolling clay and sandy loam suited to agriculture. The community is composed of tribal people that speak only their B’laan vernacular though they also understand Cebuano, which is widely used in the town. Six in every ten in the tribe are literate, being hardly able to read, write and do simple arithmetic. The high illiteracy rate, poor health services, unsafe sources of drinking water reinforced the sorry state of the people in Tagaytay.The predominant diseases that oftentimes led to death in the village include malaria, diarrhea, cough and colds with fever, ulcer and pneumonia. The village has one complete primary school with only four teachers serving them. It also suffers occasional flash floods and soil erosion due to denuded forests.

At the onset of development, problems and concerns on economic enterprise were noted to include the following: insufficient capital to start a business; inadequate alternative source of income from farming; ineffective trading and marketing support; lack of farm to market roads. The farmers also mentioned that there are some agri-infrastructure needs that have to be addressed. These include post harvest facilities, warehouse, solar drier, corn mills, and irrigation system and spring development. These needs somehow impede in the economic and agricultural production of the community. As a result, the agri-production is low thereby affecting the income of the farmers.

Despite the odds…

To hustle is to toil and work. This is what TUFAWA, the upland barangay association in Tagaytay did. Theirs is a story of how people manage to organize and unite to address their issues and concerns. However, the road to development is not easy for there are challenges to meet along the way.The association was organized in 2000 with the support from the UDP and registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2004. It operates as an association providing loans and savings services to farmers and workers. It has a membership of 190 people mostly belonging to B’laan tribe and distributed among four sitios.

Through UDP assistance, the association has formulated its vision and goal statements. The association conducted trainings and activities along diversified farming system and agro-forestry. These trainings made the community realized the importance of protecting and restoring the environment while at the same time promote and develop sustainable farming system and eventually increase farm income.

Presently, the association offers vegetable production loans to farmer members. It collects the loan through its selling scheme of P1.00 per kilogram of vegetables. Other than this, it has income from the labor payments in the road rehabilitation activity funded by UDP. The association took charge of implementing the various activities jointly planned by the different stakeholders in the community with technical and financial assistance from UDP. Among the projects it implemented include the rehabilitation of the farm to market roads and some foot trails. The business development and planning workshops were held to develop a business plan, entitled the “TUFAWA Vegetable Production and Marketing Enterprise,” with the accompanying operation manual. The system installation and coaching facilitated major activities and installed the appropriate systems, which includes simple recording and bookkeeping for officers and members becoming familiarize with the actual business transactions.

In its first three months of operation, the trading center has facilitated the trading of vegetable with an average 16 tons of vegetables monthly. This operation of the trading center was made possible due to the enforcement of the municipal ordinance requiring all agricultural commodities coming from the other barangays to be traded at the ‘Bagsakan.’ The same ordinance requires all traders/ producers conveying vegetables through the municipality to present a pass slip from the trading center. A significant portion of the vegetable supply from the producing areas is traded and consumed locally while the surplus is marketed directly to Davao City, bypassing both Bansalan and Digos City.

In the assessment study conducted, it was revealed that Tagaytay is a producer of a range of vegetables that have sufficient market demand. Production scales maybe relatively small but there is still much room for expansion both in terms of potential production areas as well as market absorption capacity.

At present, it is apparent that TUFAWA does not have the requisite capacity to effectively engage in a vegetable trading despite the enthusiasm, willingness and the presence of entrepreneurial additives. But the community’s dream and willingness to pursue are still on.

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