Matigsalug tribe folks in Bukidnon eye coconut plantation for livelihood

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 19 June) – The Matigsalugs of Kalagangan in San Fernando town in Bukidnon are eyeing to start a coconut plantation for their livelihood here a decade after obtaining a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) over tracks of land in the area.

Datu Jimboy Catawanan, chair of the people’s organization called SOLEDKI (Saamulan ne Ogpaan te Langun ne Etew alan te Keupianan te Inged or Solidarity of People in the Community as the way to the Development of the Ancestral Land), said they have sought the help of the government to address poverty.

“We can’t afford to pursue agriculture livelihood projects without the support of the government,” he added.

About 71 members of SOLEDKI, he said, will become part of the organization’s test group for the coconut plantation project they are putting up in Kalagangan with an area of over a hundred hectares.

Catawanan said they have worked with the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) both for financial and technical assistance.

SOLEDKI is composed of 12 communities. In 2003, the tribe’s claim to at least 5,000 hectares of ancestral domain was granted as part of the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) awarded to the Federation of Matigsalug-Manobo Tribal Councils (Femmatrics).

Despite the grant, they had been stuck with poverty, Catawanan said in an earlier interview. He added that the tribe still struggles to use their resources to make both ends meet.

But Catawanan said they won’t give up and have pursued discussions with members on how the community could move forward.

Earlier this year, he said with the help of friends, they were able to be in contact with the PCA.

The PCA has scheduled to conduct initial meeting and technical training with the tribe starting today June 19 until tomorrow in the area.

The seminar, he added, will cover discussions on viability of coconut, planting methods, and avoiding or controlling common diseases, among others.

Catawanan still could not reveal the cost of the PCA grant but he said it will be managed by SOLEDKI.

He added the people’s organization will also venture into corn plantation in a farm about 40 hectares big.