A conference for Filipino farmers and their concerns occurred yesterday, June 15, 2016, at the Finster Auditorium at Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU).
The theme of the conference was “Amidst Climate Change: Small Farmers Front and Center in Ensuring Food for the Filipinos, The National Climate Conference”
Almost all seats were filled by farmers from different parts of the country and by a number of speakers.
The session started with Dr. Chito Medina, the National Coordinator of Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) who discussed climate change and its impact to small Filipino farmers, their status and the challenges they are facing.
Meanwhile, Prof. Kim Gargar from the University of the Philippines-Mindanao talked about climate change and El Niño, particularly within Mindanao’s context.
A panel discussion was then held where representatives from different sectors of the Philippines followed participated in. The panel members were Dr. Lourdes Simpol from AdDU, who represented the academe, Pedro Arnado from the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Southern Mindanao Region (KMP-SMR), who represented the farmers, Rev. Israel Paimit from the United Methodist Church, who repreented the Church and Neth Daño from Erosion, Technology and Concentration, who represented the development sector.
Farmers from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao then shared their initiatives and experiences before, during and after natural disasters. Ramile Jagodilla from Visayas, spoke mostly of disaster risk reduction, relief and rehabilitation aside from her background on her livelihood.
“May mga training kami katulad ng Disaster Quick Response Training, Training on Sustainable Agricuture, at iba pa,” she said.
On the other hand, Datu Isidro Indao, a Lumad from Bukidnon, then talked about the Tribunal Filipino’s program which helped them gain knowledge on how to run a cooperative. He also mentioned that it allowed him to go to Italy where he was able to learn more.
“Nung pumunta ako sa Italy, doon ko nakita ang papel ng kooperatiba at posible nga ang magtayo ng kooperatiba pagbalik ko doon sa amin,” he said.
Indao further explained that a cooperative was established and was continuously improved. It also enabled the people to build schools and a health center.
However, Indao also said that many thought of the process as something negative and that he and the other farmers were being harmed.
“Sa pag-unlad ng kooperatiba, sumunod ang pagre-red tag sa amin,” he exclaimed.
Datu Indao also mentioned the mining companies wanting to make use of their resources to the point of harm. He also explained that the companies forced them to vacate their place and that the cooperative, health center and schools were destroyed and burned to the ground.
“Isa lamang ang gusto naming ipaabot. Tibayan natin ang ating pagkakaisa at tumindig tayo doon sa interes nating mga lumad at nating mga magsasaka,” he concluded.
Fred Manimba from Luzon followed Indao. He showed a video presentation on adaptation and mitigation strategies in agriculture.
Later on, Visayas MASIPAG Regional Coordinator Georita Pitong talked about the MASIPAG framework on climate change. He was followed by Chris Panerio, the regional coordinator for Luzon for the same organization, who talked about ways and methods of moving forward.
A number of open forums were conducted in between the talks.