Video 7 – Surop Farmers Cluster, Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental

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Ali “Jun” Bandera, 39 years old
Small Coconut Farmers Fisherfolks Association Governor Generoso (SCFFAGG)
Surop cluster leader/Farmer technician

Jun is a farmer cluster leader in Barangay Surop. He serves the community by teaching local farmers about organic farming which basically includes how to make concoctions such as indigenous micro-organism (IMO), fermented plant juice (FPJ), fermented fruit juice (FFJ), oriental herbal nutrient (OHN), fish amino acid (FMA). He is also an Arabic teacher in a Muslim school for children.

He is the chairman of SCFFAGG, one of the member farmer’s organization of Pioneers and Christians and Muslims Alliance Network (PACMAN). PACMAN is a provincial federation in Davao Oriental, which is also a member organization of PAKISAMA.

He started working as a farmhand at the age of 12. In 2006 he got married to Mylene. In 2007 the couple started organic farming after an orientation on Integrated Diversified Organic Farming System (IDOFS). They eventually formed a farmers cluster with 20 members through PAKISAMA’s “Building Agri-Based Social Enterprises in the Philippines” – a project currently supported by Agriterra, CSA and PEF.

To date there are nine clusters in the villages of Surop, Tagabebe and Nangan. Another 20 clusters in the whole municipality are assisted by PAKISAMA Mindanao, in partnership with Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the local government unit (LGU).

Jun is being invited as a resource speaker in organic farming training in other villages. The main beneficiaries of such training includes 4Ps or beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, a DSWD project for indigents.

The average income of farmers in Surop was small because they used to buy chemical fertilizers. Jun is able to earn only P4,000 every 3 months with copra (coconut meat).

PAKISAMA encouraged the farmers to do intercropping to increase their income. Jun started planting banana, corn and cacao in 2007. After a year he started selling bananas, earning a gross income of P1,000 every 15 days. In 2011 he started harvesting 30 kilos of cacao every month, which is sold at P75 per kilo – gross income of P2,250. Other crops are used for personal food consumption.

In November 2012 SCFFAGG members urged town officials to endorse an ordinance declaring Governor Generoso as an organic farming municipality. During the session at the municipal hall Jun explained to the them the benefits of organic farming. On the first week of January 2013, during the first town session, the ordinance was approved by the Sangguniang Bayan (a decision making body) and signed by the Mayor as a law. Now it is prohibited to use chemical fertilizer in the whole municipality. Rice corn farmers for example are prohibited to use 1414 and urea, some synthetic fertilizers. It also prohibits burning of rice straws.

Governor Generoso is the second municipality in Davao Oriental to adopt the organic farming ordinance. With this the town has evolved into a farm tourist destination. Banaybanay, where a farmers organization affiliated by PAKISAMA advocated for a similar legislation, was the first “organic municipality”.

Jun dreams of a peaceful and healthy community. He says it’s not a problem being financially poor as long as there is peace (free from armed conflict). Without peace there will be no improvement or development in the community, he points out. He wanted his daughter to be righteous and to continue organic farming practices as well.

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