GRIT: Chronicling the Climate Resilient Agriculture (CRA) Project Farmer-Beneficiaries of Kiabo, Malitbog, Bukidnon

Country/area: Philippines

Organisation: Agricultural Training Institute – Regional Training Center 10 (under its mother agency, the Department of Agriculture)

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 15 Dec 2020

Credit: Noemi Beth G. Macario, CRA Focal Person ATI-RTC X, ATI-RTC X pool of writers, GreenMinds Incorporated, Vicente “Jun” Dayanghirang, Rachel Raval, ATI-RTC X CRA Team, ATI Central Office CRA Team

Project description:

GRIT: Chronicling the Climate Resilient Agriculture (CRA) Project Farmer-Beneficiaries of Kiabo, Malitbog, Bukidnon is a corporate book produced by the Agricultural Training Institute-Regional Training Center 10. This project intends to amplify consolidated efforts to assist, uplift and empower the farmer-beneficiaries of Barangay Kiabo, Malitbog, Bukidnon. The Higaonon tribe beneficiaries were chosen because of the assessment of their vulnerability to climate change. Greenminds Incorporated remains instrumental in the implementation of the project to equip our farmer-beneficiaries with farming knowledge and farming technologies to withstand climate change-related issues and survive the onslaught of poverty not for a day, but for a lifetime.

Impact reached:

This book is not just a documentation of a project done right, but a testament of how grit and sincerity has set these group of people apart from the rest.

Being in the minority and underserved at that,  may have been a justification to complain and rally to highlight their plight. But unlike many of those who took to the streets and the social media to demand for real and imagined slights, these community of Higaonons live simply and peacefully with nature, working tirelessly in the mountainous land that they have inherited from their forefathers.

These traits made us more determined to reach out and lend a helping hand. In the process, they became our friends, their confidants. Their dreams became our dreams, their triumphs became ours as well.

When we started the project, social vulnerability assessments were done to make sure that we are helping the right people and bringing the right project to them. After a pre-qualification process, we, together with Greenminds Inc., an NGO and an ATI accredited Extension Service Provider then immersed ourselves in the community. We asked them their dreams and aspirations and were amazed at how simple they were. We offered more projects but they said that they will only accept what they can manage, a very commendable trait in this time of opportunism and materialism.

At this time of pandemic and extreme poverty, they continue to work in the land, produce and sell their products, with nary a complaint heard. They found joy in little things and they have a great respect for the greater power who protects them and provide their needs. At their end, they live a simple life of dignity and mutual respect, traits that we all can learn from. We are privileged to have served them.

Techniques/technologies used:

The project started with vulnerability assessment, social preparations and planning. Our role as project implementors is to let the farmers plan for their own future. We were just there to guide them and extend a helping hand to help them attain their dreams. This is instrumental in the success of the project. The farmers only ask what they can manage susch as 4 pigs or 50 pcs ducks. Offering them more was met w Helping farmers plan for their future while guiding them in growing and producing appropriate crops and livestock is the key to the success of the project. The interventions introduced were not only geared towards addressing hunger and malnutrition but also were market driven. While modern technologies were introduced, established indigenous knowledge, belief systems and practices were respected and even documented. Supporting locally grown food also helps us towards sustainability as our farmers ensure that the land is well-kept through minimal use of harmful chemicals and fertilizers. However, farmers continue to face the challenge of feeding a growing population, providing for their families, and protecting the environment. To make sure there is enough nutritious and safe food on their table, our farmers deal with varying circumstances such as extreme weather conditions, pests infestation and disease outbreaks. Come rain or shine, our farmers tend to their fields and do everything they can to have a good harvest. They deal with the most difficult situations, yet local farmers earn very little. The CRA initiative continues to thrive in Northern Mindanao and among the local beneficiaries are farmers from Kiabo, Bukidnon. As part of our indigenous groups, they are inheritors and practitioners of a unique culture and distinct ways of relating to people and the environment.

What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest part of implementing this project is the natural cautiousness of the farmers towards government projects. They have been “burned” before by people with political agenda. That is why we never dictated them or imposed projects and programs. We let them decide what projects to implement and the pace. We worked around their practices and beliefs, and introduced new technologies with caustion. Respect for their beliefs were given prime consideration.

Still, we try to introduce new technologies as long as it did not contradict with how they do things. We taught them the “entrepreneurial mindset” as compaired to their “just for existence” farming mindset. This has paid off. During the pandemic, we were informed that they were able to sell their herbs and black rice. This encouraged them to plant more.

We also encouraged participation of allmost all members of the family including the youth. The younger members of the family were encouraged to handle marketing while their elders remain the producers. Processing and value-adding trainings and Farm Business School was also introduced to other members of the family..

We continue to espouse participation from all stakeholders through our Climate Resilient Agriculture (CRA) Program. Through the CRA Program, we are able to reach out to far-flung agricultural communities to enhance their capacities to withstand climate-related issues. These are families whose income is only enough for their most basic needs and can barely support their livelihood.

What can others learn from this project?

GRIT: Chronicling the Climate Resilient Agriculture (CRA) Project Farmer-Beneficiaries of Kiabo, Malitbog, Bukidnon is the latest corporate book produced by the Agricultural Training Institute-Regional Training Center X.

The publication of GRIT is the center’s continuing effort to write, document and chronicle how our farmer-beneficiaries became self-sufficient and resilient to rise to the challenge in farming brought about by climate change.

Journalists can learn that even in the far-flung and less visited areas, there are stories to tell. These stories  would inspire even the most cynic.  For everyone, it is an eye opener. These people who are underserved and usually neglected  by government live peacefully among themselves. They don’t make demands but work tirelessly and with dignity. They appreciate interventions, though sometimes with reservations. Still, if you gain their trust, they will be friends for life.

Stories like theirs must be told, With just a little push and a helping hand, they were able to triumph. These are people  who find joy in little things. Being able to send  their children to school with a few cents in their pockets gave them unparralled joys.

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