When we speak of farmers, the first thing that comes to mind is a dark skinned man holding the reins of a carabao dragging plows through the earth. However, there are many types of farming and farmers around the world. And Bongabon, as a farming community has a fair share of those types, from industrialized to organic farming.
And then there is SILAW, a group of women practicing traditional and organic farming in the middle of a forest. Let that sink in for a moment.
The Salabusob Intergrated Livelihood Association of Women (SILAW) an all women group belonging to the Kankana-ey tribe in Labi, Bongabon, Nueva Ecija. This Barangay is situated in Central Luzon at approximately 544 meters above sea level. SILAW is one of the selected CBO/PO that is supported by Protect Wildlife W-GDP.
SILAW’s primary objective is to provide livelihood for its members. Traditional farming is practiced by the its members, with manual tilling of land using simple tools (asarol, bareta, panabra), rotational panting and inter-cropping with cash crops and fruit trees. Their turmeric is cultivated organically as an intercrop along with other crops such as mango, jackfruit, avocado, guyabano. All the companion crops are also organically grown. They do not use any chemical in processing the chips as turmeric is considered an herbal medicine.
The SILAW’s turmeric farm is located within the Multiple Use Zone (MUZ). The MUZ is designated in the Aurora Memorial National Park management plan for settlement, traditional and sustainable agriculture, agroforestry, resource extraction and income-generating activities.
The mass production of turmeric products will start after the crops are ready; they are expecting to harvest the turmeric on December 2020.
With the help of Project Wildlife through the USAID Mission participated in the USG Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) initiative, entitled “The Journey to Self-Reliance through Womens’ Economic Empowerment”, the DA PhilMech designed Multi-Commodity Solar Tunnel Dryer (MCTSD) was bequeathed to SILAW. Along with additional trainings and learning sessions with DENR and PW, the production of turmeric products by SILAW was recognized as a sustainable livelihood.
After the timely turn-over of the equipment for the production and processing of turmeric, and the incoming harvest of the crops this December the future for the women farmers of SILAW do seems bright. And we as Bongabueños should be proud of our fellow Bongabueñas in SILAW.
One heart, one mind, one Bongabon.