Mindanao farmers converge to assess impact of plantation and aerial spray

The assessment is based on recent studies such as the key findings of the Department of Health (DOH) on the impact of aerial spraying of pesticides as explained in their study conducted in Davao del Sur.

DOH study principal investigator Dr. Allan Dionisio of the National Poison Management and Control Center discussed the dangers of pesticides and more significantly the toxic effects of aerial spraying to human health and environment. He is joined by Dr. Lourdes Simpol of the Ateneo de Davao University who presented the study results of their Pesticide Monitoring in Talomo-Lipadas and Panigan-Tamugan Watershed.

“Having experienced how plantations drastically changed the lives of people in Mindanao and its natural landscape, this is a gathering of energies to strengthen a peoples' movement that will fight for public welfare and environmental justice,” said Lia Esquillo, executive director of the Interface Development Interventions, Inc. (IDIS).

“The environmental effects of this kind of agricultural development such as pesticide pollution, loss of organic soil fertility, loss of biodiversity, freshwater contamination, soil erosion, flash floods and silting of waterways are most worrisome. These threaten not only the long term sustainability of our natural resource base but also our health and well-being,” Esquillo said.

“As we approach Earth Day, it is timely to discuss the above issues as one community and look for ways to address them,” Esquillo said.

Organized by IDIS, Go Organic Mindanao (GOM) and Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS), this two-day conference entitled “Agribusiness Plantations: Our Health, Our Environment At Stake” held at the Mindanao Training Resource Center in Bajada, also wants to look at efforts of alternative ways of local government units and civil society in addressing the impact of plantations and strengthen the Mindanao network that will push for local and national policies, mechanisms and budgets in supports of such policies.

Government representatives from North Cotabato showcased their initiatives in dealing with these plantations particularly on the hazards of aerial spraying. Aside from Davao City, North Cotabato already formed policies banning the aerial spraying method and have been implemented effectively.

The output of this gathering will be an action agenda to stop or mitigate the adverse effects of these corporate plantations.

Participants come from 13 province including North and South Cotabato, Bukidnon, Davao provinces, Davao City and Compostela Valley where existing agribusiness plantations such as banana, pineapple, oil palm and mango thrive. (IDIS)