Technology brings hope to Mamasapano farmers – Philippines

October 9, 2015
by Alexander D. Lopez

Cotabato City – Rising from the tragedy of the bloody Mamasapano encounter, hundreds of farmers from the agricultural town in Maguindanao have turned to technology to boost rice production and are now also engaged in organic farming with the help of a grant from the Department of Science and Technology in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DOST-ARMM).

“That unfortunate incident is already a thing of the past and what matters now is to move on, especially with the lives of ordinary farmers (in Mamasapano),” said Modrika Masukat, chairperson of the Al Rahman Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Mamasapano.

The Al Rahman cooperative was recently made the recipient of a P1.2-million Foliar Organic Fertilizer and Vermi Cast Production Project from DOST-ARMM.

Al Rahman  was organized 15 years ago but started its full operations and engagement into organic farming only last year. It now covers around 250 hectares of rice fields benefiting a total of 180 members.

“Our intervention with Al Rahman cooperative started last year with the provision of technology on organic farming and the upgrading of their facilities and equipment for production of organic fertilizers,” said Myra Mangkabung, secretary of DOST-ARMM.

Mangkabung added that DOST-ARMM focused its interventions on technology transfer through a series of education and training programs that enabled cooperative members in Mamasapano to produce quality organic rice and other agricultural products.

The next level of intervention will involve the packaging and labeling of the cooperative’s farm products that will help cooperative members market their own produce, she emphasized, adding that upcoming trainings on the matter are already slated in the area.

Since last year, Masukat said that the cooperative has realized an income of P200,000 per cropping from of its organic rice and mongo production.

Cropping season comes every four months after planting season.

Of the 250-hectare coverage for rice production, around five hectares were devoted to organic brown rice and some areas for black rice production.

A total of 1.75 hectares has also been devoted to production of newly released rice varieties from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) while the rest of the area is devoted to commonly grown rice varieties.

Masucat said Al Rahman’s locally-produced organic rice is still being sold in the local markets in Maguindanao province and Cotabato City.

“Kulang pa sa local market namin. Marami ang buyers ang aming organic rice,” he pointed out.