November 27, 2011 in Cordillera
By APIT MONTANYOSA (PR)
SAGADA, Mountain Province — Among the 22 women and 8 male participants were representatives from the Asia indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) in a Farmers Forum which was co-sponsored by the Committee on Agriculture of the Sangunian Bayan here, the People’s Center for Peace and Development, and the Montanyosa Research and Development Center (MRDC) on November 14.
Held in the Municipal Conference Hall of Sagada the activity was an effort to draw a clearer picture of the actual agricultural and peasant situation in the municipality. This came as part of the partnership of the different line agencies, NGOs and other local private institutions to respond to the agricultural development of the town and the province.
The results of the forum shall also be a basis for the plans or programs being drawn for agricultural development here.
Eight peasant or farmers organizations in the municipality, with the NGOs, CHARMP community mobilization officers of Sagada and the Municipal Agricultural Officer of Sagada Mrs. Maria Ap-apid completed the participation of the town.
Having continuously monitored and documented these, the MRDC opened the forum with their research on the “Marginalized Peasant Economy of the Cordillera”. This lecture gave framework for the workshops, that followed, on the present concerns of the peasantry in Sagada.
For the workshops participants were divided into the four zones of Sagada – North, Eastern, Southern and Central zone to give more detail and draw a clearer picture of the situation in their own areas. This allowed participants to hone their skills at visualizing the relationship of farming or agricultural development and the environment and resources in their ancestral territories.
There was special focus on water as an important resource for agricultural production and residential consumption. As well as, an economic landscape of the population vis a vis agricultural production and productivity in the different zones. This helped indicate the levels of food sufficiency or insecurity in the municipality at present.
Initially the workshop results, indicated that water is a critical resource in agriculture. Today, many ricefields and gardens as well as swidden farms are not maximized because of the condition of the water system and inadequate water supply. The participants agreed that their water from springs is channelled to domestic water use and agricultural use through individual or private hoses.
They have all observed also that there is a significant decrease in the volume of water supply from the springs, and the speeded deterioration of existing agriculture and water distribution systems (irrigation, intake areas etc.) contribute to reduction of the water supply also and therefore the decrease in production.
The participants also lament the destruction wrought by strong typhoons, heavy rains, strong winds and haelstorms on crops and agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation and retaining walls in ricefields. As well as the infestation of earthworms, rats, plant diseases contribute to reduced harvests.
Expressed in the workshop is the chaotic use and management of common resources due to the erosion of traditional practices of resource management which the elders of the Dap-ay implement. Today, there are even cases of crops or seedlings being stolen from the nurseries and gardens. Lampesa, or system of communal water sharing instilled in the villages in slowly being overtaken by privatization or commerce.
Farmers also aired their distress over the small scale mining at the Fidelisan village. They say that the mine wastes that flow downstream cause fields to yield less and it also pauses threat to water and sanitation and health in downstream villages of Tanulong, Eastern Sagada, the Chico river to where the waters from Sagada flow.
Aside from these, the issue of large scale corporate interest in the municipality is also a large threat to their livelihood as well as security. Sagadas’ 8337 hectares is covered by the FTAA application of Cordillera Exploration Incorporated. It is part of the 74000 hectare application of CEXInc. in Mt. Province.
After the workshops, MRDC, the MAO and Apit Tako presented their current programs in support of the peasantry and to agriculture. MRDC bannered their continuing program for sustainable agriculture and appropriate technology.
On the other hand the local MAO showed off their projects for 2012 which include animal dispersals, organic farming and propagation of Dojo fish and other fishing projects.# nordis.net