Travelling across KaIamansig and Lebak municipalities, you can see some mountains being cleared for BT corn planting. Such imbalance is a perfect ingredient for soil erosion, flooding, soil degradation due to heavy synthetic chemicals needed by the GMO corn.
Meanwhile, there are ambitious, forward- looking coffee farmers in Lebak who are convincing other farmers to focus more on coffee than corn since it has higher value, requires less maintenance than corn, even no chemical at all and encourages reforestation. They are a federation of Coffee farmers association in Lebak, Sultan Kudarat and they have the vision to be the number one coffee producing Municipality in the Philippines, beating a neighboring Municipality on the record.
To date, the average harvest per coffee tree is one kilo. However, in reality, coffee farmers in the Philippines only harvest 0.3- 0.6 Kilogram per tree. Clearly, this is an area to improve on. By increasing the productivity, farmers income can also increase.
The Multiplier Effect
While tree productivity remains a challenge, so is farmer member participation. “Don’t drop inactive farmer members”, says Sir Alcaide, vice president of the federation. You must think of a Multiplier Effect. If you want change, you must model change. This is why we are creating model farms in every Barangay because of farmers ‘see to believe’ attitude”
Early this year, the Federation will set up model farms in every Barangay with the help of the department of agriculture who will supply planting materials and seedlings to chosen farmers.
I am glad I am working with these farmers who are visionaries and working on changing the current landscape of their mountain areas and the position of farmers against traders as well.