The story of Trinidad-Talibon Integrated Farmers Association From the ground: Organic farming as com

Amid observations of persistent hunger and poverty, one sees a glimmer of hope in Barangay San Vicente, Trinidad, Bohol, where the Trinidad-Talibon Integrated Farmers Association (TTIFA) practices sustainable agriculture. There are no malnourished children in the community. Some children who may be thin are energetic. Some community folk have goiter but are eventually cured because they do not eat food that enhances the illness; rather they just eat more malunggay to cure their condition.

Common illnesses such as coughs and colds are cured with ginger ale, oregano and lagundi. Wounds, fever, stomachaches and skin allergies are cured by many herbal plants in the community. Even the hagonoy, used as pesticide, can also cure ulcers. A farmer who used to suffer hypertension now has normal blood circulation after shifting from chemical-laced food to organic products. The barangay folk no longer go to the doctors often and buy medicines because most of what they need is found in their surroundings.

In terms of food security, farmers’ production of rice and vegetables serve their consumption needs. Surplus rice is sold to the Farmers Development Cooperative (FARDEC) which has a rice mill situated in the barangay. Despite lack of irrigation, climate change and other nuisances, the community’s nutritional needs are met due to the abundance of vegetables in the barangay’s farms.

These benefits come on top of the additional income made by farmers practicing organic farming. They harvest vegetables more often, maintain their copra production and reap the advantages of planting organic crops, which are undeterred by climate change unlike inorganic ones.

“Organic farming costs less. If ever we have crop failure, we don’t have to worry about loans to pay back traders compared to chemical farming where we suffer crop failure and end up more indebted,” San Vicente farmers attest.

A history of assertion

The 280-strong TTIFA started practicing organic farming as early as the mid- 2000 when they established their communal farm after a successful land occupation of what was once a cattle farm comprising 1,900 hectares spanning portions of the municipalities of Trinidad and Talibon in Bohol province. Established in late 1980’s, it is a member of Hiniusang Makinasudnong Mag-uuma sa Trinidad (HIMAMAT or Peasant Movement in Trinidad), which is the municipal chapter of the Hugpong sa mga Mag-uumang Bol-anon (HUMABOL or the provincial Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas chapter). HUMABOL has chapters in 27 out of 40 municipalities in Bohol.

The 1900 – hectare Bohol Cattle Corporation was owned by Marcos crony and President Aquino’s uncle, Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Jr., and two other partners, Mitra and Villareal. Upon discovering that the cattle farm was part of sequestered assets, HUMABOL organized landless farmers and farm workers in Talibon and Trinidad to occupy it. There were only 38 of them when they first attempted to occupy the said land.

A few days later, the farmers were harassed by the cattle farm’s security and cowboys. Cases were filed against the farmers: they were charged with arson, forcible entry and qualified theft. The cowboys burned the houses put up by the farmers and even took the latter’s equipment. The farmers returned in 1988, but the bunkhouse which they built was dismantled by the cowboys.

In 1990, the cases filed against the farmers were dismissed by the Regional Trial Court so they once again returned to the cattle farm. However, the leaders were arrested and were taken to the municipal hall along with 10 carabaos. Still, HUMABOL members stood their ground and resolved to defend the land with their lives. Three TTIFA leaders were killed throughout 1993-2007. Two cowboys were charged and incarcerated for the murders.

Under DAR mediation in 1995, the TTIFA received 600 hectares of land, while a DAR-formed organization, the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (ARBA), was said to benefit from the remaining hectares.

The TTIFA which was helped by FARDEC starting in the early 1990’s lobbied relentlessly and gained support from other NGOs and from the local government unit. The DAR offered Php4.5 million of service facilities, 70% of which was to be repaid as loans for farming equipment and 30% of which would be provided as grant for infrastructure development. The TTIFA lobbied to just avail of the 30% grant equivalent of service facilities, to which the DAR did not agree.

Nevertheless, with the TTIFA becoming more consolidated and dynamic, the organization is able to ensure its own governance in the community. A communal reforestation area is developed. Each household is allotted 3 hectares for their farms and a 5 – hectare communal farm was set up. The organization put up its own school - a day care center and primary school for children which is already accredited by the DSWD and the Department of Education. FARDEC through the support of EED provided for the construction of potable water system which the TTIFA managed. They lobbied to the municipal government for their electricity and renovation of the training center. In 2009, through EED’s support, a medium scale rice milling and marketing project is put up by FARDEC co-managed by TTIFA to serve more than 30 barangays: Trinidad, Talibon, San Miguel, Mabini, Ubay, Dagohoy, and others.

In early 2000, when there was a plan by the provincial government to convert huge tracts of land for Palm Oil, TTIFA was one of those farmers organizations who staunchly opposed and campaigned that it should be stopped. To this day, those previously claiming to be owners of the cattle farm have not gone back to take the land from the TTIFA farmers.

Sustainable agriculture in communal farms

Issued one ‘mother’ Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), TTIFA members maintain around three hectares each. Around 2/3 of the membership practice organic rice farming, while 80% are into organic vegetables gardening, with majority having their own livestock and poultry.

Only a few TTIFA rice and corn farmers practice full organic farming. Most of the rice farmers are into LEISA (Low external input sustainable agriculture). SRI – System of Rice Intensification is taught to them. First it was experimented on their communal demonstration farms. Nevertheless, most TTIFA members practice full organic farming in their vegetable gardens.

Organic farmers practice mulching, using compost from rice hull, banana trunks and leaves, leaves of trees that fall on the ground, and other biodegradable organic matter which can be mixed with carabao dung or chicken manure, digging a hole in the ground where all these organic matters can be gathered for compost.

Farmers use chili and/ or combine it with madre cacao and panyawan or toble (plant root) and Tide powder soap for pesticides spray on vegetables. The spray is also applied on rice, while in backyard vegetable farming, pests are either sprayed with botanical spray or removed manually along with the damaged parts of the leaves. Vermicompost is also maintained as a fertilizer, as well as fermented fruit juice. Aside from this, foliar spray and calcium phosphate are applied. Farms are also contoured as a practice.

Upon the introduction of SIBAT and FARDEC, TTIFA farmers practice diversification. They cannot depend on a single crop to live on and feed their families. There is also usually space given for livestock and poultry such as carabao, cattle, goat, ducks and chickens, along with having rice, vegetables and fruit trees for their income and livelihood. Some members also have fishponds.

Farm animals are fed with organic material found in the farms. Rice hull is used as feeds alongside kangkong, matured coconut, and laguayan. Fish are fed with rice bran from the rice mill.

For ‘Art’ or the organic rice used by full organic farmers, the system of rice intensification (SRI) is employed. To grow healthier rice stalks, the distance between the seedlings is nine inches and only one seedling is planted per hole. It takes four to five months before harvesting Art. ‘Art’ cultivation using the SRI has produced good results such as double the 2010 average yield of Bohol in rainfed farms (2.5MT) and more than the average yield for irrigated rice farms (5.6MT).

SRI-cultivated organic rice in non-irrigated farms yielded more than the national average of 4.1MT irrigated and 2.61 rainfed in 2010/2011. To wit: 5.6MT for Art, 4.7MT for M194, 4.5MT for Maligaya, and 4.1MT for M13-3W. Meanwhile, TTIFA farmers recognize the benefits of crop rotation in maintaining the soil’s fertility and productivity. The challenge to stick to organic farming despite lack of government support for it also still remains.

The farmers started practicing organic farming in 2008 in communal farms established in the late 1980s. On Saturdays, they collectively work on five hectares planted to assorted vegetables, mangoes, calamansi, pineapple, banana, root crops such as camote, yam and gabi, as well as rice cultivated using the SRI technology. Ducks and hogs are communally owned but individuals are assigned to breed them. There is also a communal system for carabaos and chickens.

Grouping members under committees ensure the participation of each in the upkeep of the communal farm. Various committees are assigned for the nursery where seedlings for propagation are grown; to take charge of rice cultivation; for the culture of vermi worms; to take charge of herbal and health concerns (usually managed by women); to oversee socioeconomic concerns that cover the implementation of sustainable agriculture and livestock dispersal. The youth are assigned to take care of their own garden at the church grounds, on which they grow ginger to sell; they also take charge of the coconut trees.

Regular meetings among the committees help in consolidating the farmers and strengthening the organizational unity of the TTIFA. Trainings and seminars on sustainable agriculture technology are also conducted, while TTIFA trainers provide education on sustainable agriculture in other communities.####

Amid observations of persistent hunger and poverty, one sees a glimmer of hope in Barangay San Vicente, Trinidad, Bohol, where the Trinidad-Talibon Integrated Farmers Association (TTIFA) practices sustainable agriculture. There are no malnourished children in the community. Some children who may be thin are energetic. Some community folk have goiter but are eventually cured because they do not eat food that enhances the illness; rather they just eat more malunggay to cure their condition.

Common illnesses such as coughs and colds are cured with ginger ale, oregano and lagundi. Wounds, fever, stomachaches and skin allergies are cured by many herbal plants in the community. Even the hagonoy, used as pesticide, can also cure ulcers. A farmer who used to suffer hypertension now has normal blood circulation after shifting from chemical-laced food to organic products. The barangay folk no longer go to the doctors often and buy medicines because most of what they need is found in their surroundings.

In terms of food security, farmers’ production of rice and vegetables serve their consumption needs. Surplus rice is sold to the Farmers Development Cooperative (FARDEC) which has a rice mill situated in the barangay. Despite lack of irrigation, climate change and other nuisances, the community’s nutritional needs are met due to the abundance of vegetables in the barangay’s farms.

These benefits come on top of the additional income made by farmers practicing organic farming. They harvest vegetables more often, maintain their copra production and reap the advantages of planting organic crops, which are undeterred by climate change unlike inorganic ones.

“Organic farming costs less. If ever we have crop failure, we don’t have to worry about loans to pay back traders compared to chemical farming where we suffer crop failure and end up more indebted,” San Vicente farmers attest.

A history of assertion

The 280-strong TTIFA started practicing organic farming as early as the mid- 2000 when they established their communal farm after a successful land occupation of what was once a cattle farm comprising 1,900 hectares spanning portions of the municipalities of Trinidad and Talibon in Bohol province. Established in late 1980’s, it is a member of Hiniusang Makinasudnong Mag-uuma sa Trinidad (HIMAMAT or Peasant Movement in Trinidad), which is the municipal chapter of the Hugpong sa mga Mag-uumang Bol-anon (HUMABOL or the provincial Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas chapter). HUMABOL has chapters in 27 out of 40 municipalities in Bohol.

The 1900 – hectare Bohol Cattle Corporation was owned by Marcos crony and President Aquino’s uncle, Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Jr., and two other partners, Mitra and Villareal. Upon discovering that the cattle farm was part of sequestered assets, HUMABOL organized landless farmers and farm workers in Talibon and Trinidad to occupy it. There were only 38 of them when they first attempted to occupy the said land.

A few days later, the farmers were harassed by the cattle farm’s security and cowboys. Cases were filed against the farmers: they were charged with arson, forcible entry and qualified theft. The cowboys burned the houses put up by the farmers and even took the latter’s equipment. The farmers returned in 1988, but the bunkhouse which they built was dismantled by the cowboys.

In 1990, the cases filed against the farmers were dismissed by the Regional Trial Court so they once again returned to the cattle farm. However, the leaders were arrested and were taken to the municipal hall along with 10 carabaos. Still, HUMABOL members stood their ground and resolved to defend the land with their lives. Three TTIFA leaders were killed throughout 1993-2007. Two cowboys were charged and incarcerated for the murders.

Under DAR mediation in 1995, the TTIFA received 600 hectares of land, while a DAR-formed organization, the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (ARBA), was said to benefit from the remaining hectares.

The TTIFA which was helped by FARDEC starting in the early 1990’s lobbied relentlessly and gained support from other NGOs and from the local government unit. The DAR offered Php4.5 million of service facilities, 70% of which was to be repaid as loans for farming equipment and 30% of which would be provided as grant for infrastructure development. The TTIFA lobbied to just avail of the 30% grant equivalent of service facilities, to which the DAR did not agree.

Nevertheless, with the TTIFA becoming more consolidated and dynamic, the organization is able to ensure its own governance in the community. A communal reforestation area is developed. Each household is allotted 3 hectares for their farms and a 5 – hectare communal farm was set up. The organization put up its own school - a day care center and primary school for children which is already accredited by the DSWD and the Department of Education. FARDEC through the support of EED provided for the construction of potable water system which the TTIFA managed. They lobbied to the municipal government for their electricity and renovation of the training center. In 2009, through EED’s support, a medium scale rice milling and marketing project is put up by FARDEC co-managed by TTIFA to serve more than 30 barangays: Trinidad, Talibon, San Miguel, Mabini, Ubay, Dagohoy, and others.

In early 2000, when there was a plan by the provincial government to convert huge tracts of land for Palm Oil, TTIFA was one of those farmers organizations who staunchly opposed and campaigned that it should be stopped. To this day, those previously claiming to be owners of the cattle farm have not gone back to take the land from the TTIFA farmers.

Sustainable agriculture in communal farms

Issued one ‘mother’ Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), TTIFA members maintain around three hectares each. Around 2/3 of the membership practice organic rice farming, while 80% are into organic vegetables gardening, with majority having their own livestock and poultry.

Only a few TTIFA rice and corn farmers practice full organic farming. Most of the rice farmers are into LEISA (Low external input sustainable agriculture). SRI – System of Rice Intensification is taught to them. First it was experimented on their communal demonstration farms. Nevertheless, most TTIFA members practice full organic farming in their vegetable gardens.

Organic farmers practice mulching, using compost from rice hull, banana trunks and leaves, leaves of trees that fall on the ground, and other biodegradable organic matter which can be mixed with carabao dung or chicken manure, digging a hole in the ground where all these organic matters can be gathered for compost.

Farmers use chili and/ or combine it with madre cacao and panyawan or toble (plant root) and Tide powder soap for pesticides spray on vegetables. The spray is also applied on rice, while in backyard vegetable farming, pests are either sprayed with botanical spray or removed manually along with the damaged parts of the leaves. Vermicompost is also maintained as a fertilizer, as well as fermented fruit juice. Aside from this, foliar spray and calcium phosphate are applied. Farms are also contoured as a practice.

Upon the introduction of SIBAT and FARDEC, TTIFA farmers practice diversification. They cannot depend on a single crop to live on and feed their families. There is also usually space given for livestock and poultry such as carabao, cattle, goat, ducks and chickens, along with having rice, vegetables and fruit trees for their income and livelihood. Some members also have fishponds.

Farm animals are fed with organic material found in the farms. Rice hull is used as feeds alongside kangkong, matured coconut, and laguayan. Fish are fed with rice bran from the rice mill.

For ‘Art’ or the organic rice used by full organic farmers, the system of rice intensification (SRI) is employed. To grow healthier rice stalks, the distance between the seedlings is nine inches and only one seedling is planted per hole. It takes four to five months before harvesting Art. ‘Art’ cultivation using the SRI has produced good results such as double the 2010 average yield of Bohol in rainfed farms (2.5MT) and more than the average yield for irrigated rice farms (5.6MT).

SRI-cultivated organic rice in non-irrigated farms yielded more than the national average of 4.1MT irrigated and 2.61 rainfed in 2010/2011. To wit: 5.6MT for Art, 4.7MT for M194, 4.5MT for Maligaya, and 4.1MT for M13-3W. Meanwhile, TTIFA farmers recognize the benefits of crop rotation in maintaining the soil’s fertility and productivity. The challenge to stick to organic farming despite lack of government support for it also still remains.

The farmers started practicing organic farming in 2008 in communal farms established in the late 1980s. On Saturdays, they collectively work on five hectares planted to assorted vegetables, mangoes, calamansi, pineapple, banana, root crops such as camote, yam and gabi, as well as rice cultivated using the SRI technology. Ducks and hogs are communally owned but individuals are assigned to breed them. There is also a communal system for carabaos and chickens.

Grouping members under committees ensure the participation of each in the upkeep of the communal farm. Various committees are assigned for the nursery where seedlings for propagation are grown; to take charge of rice cultivation; for the culture of vermi worms; to take charge of herbal and health concerns (usually managed by women); to oversee socioeconomic concerns that cover the implementation of sustainable agriculture and livestock dispersal. The youth are assigned to take care of their own garden at the church grounds, on which they grow ginger to sell; they also take charge of the coconut trees.

Regular meetings among the committees help in consolidating the farmers and strengthening the organizational unity of the TTIFA. Trainings and seminars on sustainable agriculture technology are also conducted, while TTIFA trainers provide education on sustainable agriculture in other communities.####

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