An overview of the stories of organic farmers in Los Baños

Honestly, when we were asked to choose what newsbeat are we going to take in class, I was kind of hesitant in pursuing organic agriculture not because I do not want to pursue the topic but rather I want to make a follow-up story on my former article regarding social enterprises. I guess, it’s time for me to take another opportunity and explore a whole new topic. This is challenging and exciting for me.

We made the plans and interviews experts regarding the organic farms here at Laguna. They mentioned 7 barangays and told us that among these 7, only three are active in the wide practice of organic farming and training for innovations. These barangays are Timugan, Malinta, and Bagong Silang.

  • 13 September 2016

[Photos by Chicco Carmona & Camille Hemedes]

We first visited Barangay Timugan since it was the nearest from the municipal office where we came from. In order to reach the barangay, one must take a 15-20 minute ride on a trike which are in queue just beside the municipal office. The trike driver knows that we are rookies in the place so he offered to give his number so he can fetch us after we do our scoping at the barangay.

The first three photos were taken at Timugan where we met the Vice President of “Samahan ng mga Magsasaka sa Paanan ng Bundok Makiling” or the SMPBM, Ms. Myrna Ubaldo. Ms. Ubaldo shared with us their motivation to practice organic farming and how they help each other as a community to solve their problems and reinforce “bayanihan.”

She shared her stories about how their organization was formed as well as how the communities contribute to the organization as a whole. SMPBM promotes the livelihood of its members in terms of organic farming and reaching out to the local government for aid.

Ms. Ubaldo added that as an organization, they undergo trainings at PAMANA in order to further improve their crops and livelihood. These trainings provided by the government and institutions help them be informed of the innovations in agriculture especially in organic farming.

After a long talk with Ms. Ubaldo, we left the barangay through a trike again after Kuyang driver immediately responded to our text. Because of some built rapport, he offered to bring us to Barangay Malinta directly from Barangay Timugan, which has been very convenient for us.

From the barangay hall of Malinta, we took a 20-30 minute walk in order to reach the house of Ms. Emily Alforja, which is the person referred to us by the Department of Agriculture in the Municipal Office. On the last picture was Ms. Alforja shares how their community practices organic farming as well as the progress of their organizations which is the Los Baños Association of Food and Vegetable Growers.

She shared to us that she understands our nature and happily welcomed our questions. We were told that she has already contributed seven articles at LB Times.

She told us that the main problem of their community is the changing season which affects the productivity of their organic crops. Other than that, she told us that their community actively receives aid from the government and institutions through trainings, seminars, and other events that will help improve their knowledge in organic farming.

  • 17 September 2016

[Photos by Camille Hemedes]

Since we were not able to visit Brgy. Bagong Silang on September 13, we decided to just meet the farmers from that barangay in the Barangay Booth Fair at Bayan during the Bañamos Festival. Luckily, we have met them and we had a conversation with Ms. Babyjane Casilao, one of the organic farmers in the barangay.

Just like the last two barangays we have visited, they also shared their experiences as organic farmers and their motivations in organic farming. We were slightly surprised that we can see them comfortable talking with us while we are asking questions regarding their livelihood.

Among the booths there, the booth of Bagong Silang has the largest table for produce to sell. According to our sources, this barangay has the largest number of organic farmers that produce the most number of organic goods for selling in the Friday Organic Market. However, this does not mean that only Brgy. Bagong Silang featured organic goods. Brgy Malinta, Tuntungin-putho, and Mayundon also displayed their organic produce in the booth fair.

  • 30 September 2016

[Photos by Clarisse Abao]

To have a jumpstart on my data gathering for Exercise 4B, I visited the Friday Organic Market at the Municipal Office this afternoon to find some key persons whom I can communicate with as I encourage the communities to share their stories. Here I met some farmers from Timugan and Bagong Silang.

They shared me their schedule in the Friday Organic Market. Their day starts at 3am which is the time where the organic fruits and vegetables were traveled down from Timugan and Bagong Silang to the Municipal Office in the Friday Organic Market. They start selling at 6am and ends the day at 3pm. If there are leftover produce, they will sell it door to door in their barangays and nearby communities to avoid the goods rotting.

Some of them told me that before the Friday Organic Market was started, they manually bring their produce and sell them door-to-door in and around the community. They told me that it was tasking, but thanks to a rest from this tasking activity through the Friday Organic Market, they find a new opportunity to promote their goods directly from harvest.

According to one of the farmers from Bagong Silang, their community just harvest enough produce for selling in order to prevent rotting. This is one of their preventive measures to avoid wastage of the produce and to make their livelihood more efficient and profitable.

Reflections:

I realized that real stories by the communities are not forced from the members of the community. They initiate to tell their own stories when they perceive the one who talks to them as someone who listens and acts well. They put the highest regard on the ethics and intentions of the communication practitioner that they encounter so we must be very careful in creating first impressions in the community we are going to work with.

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