Siargao mayor wants communal gardens to be established in her town

PILAR, Siargao Island (MindaNews / 4 Aug) – Inspired by a community-driven initiative pushing organic farming, the mayor of this fish-rich town now wants all the barangays here to go into communal farming.

Members of the Jaboy Vegetable Growers Association (JAVEGA) harvest the produce of their labor at their communal farm in the municipality of Pilar in Siargao Island. Photo taken 2 July 2020. MindaNews photo by ROEL N. CATOTO

“We want all the barangays in Pilar to have their own communal garden inspired by the Hardin Ng Pagbabago. We will adopt this community driven-concept in all villages here,” Mayor Maria Liza Resurrection told MindaNews Tuesday.

The mayor also announced her plan last week at the farm of the Jaboy Vegetable Association (JAVEGA), one of the communal gardens under the umbrella of Hardin Ng Pagbabago.

The mayor, along with representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry and the Police Provincial Office, was there for the JAVEGA organizational assessment and garden evaluation of Hardin Ng Pagbabago.

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has decimated the town’s economy, and Resurreccion hopes that it will bounce back with the help of agriculture.

She said a boat ride from Surigao City last year was an eye opener when she saw a Pilar resident bringing sacks of agricultural products like squash, string beans, cucumber, monggo beans, eggplants, and a few more.

“I wonder why can’t we locally produce these products here,” Resurreccion said, noting that Pilar used to be an agricultural town before it shifted to tourism, along with the rest of Siargao, during the past few decades.

Resurreccion, who is the president of the league of mayors in the province, said it is important that that no one in her municipality will go hungry.

The mayor said that she is taking over the operations of Municipal Agricultural Office after she realized that it has not performed well.

The mayor recalled that some of the seeds purchased for the farmers even went expired.

“I had to personally hand the seeds to the people to make sure these will be used before expiration,” she stressed.

Hardin Ng Pagbabago, the community-driven initiative in Siargao promoting peace and sustainable community through organic farming, is set to schedule a meeting with the mayor this week to discuss collaboration work.

Harvesting kangkong at the JAVEGA communal farm. MindaNews photo by ROEL N. CATOTO

Captain Wise Vicente Panuelos, of the General Luna Police Station who is the founder of the community initiative project, said he and his team will present the proposal to the office of the mayor.

“We were stunned by the mayor’s response and support to our initiative. We are looking forward for more collaborative work to ensure food security on the island,” Panuelos said.

Pilar Municipal Councilor Narda Trigo, chairperson of Association of Barangay Council, said she will work with other barangay captains to spearhead the legwork of communal farms with the rest of the villages.

“Village officials have a great role here to lead the communal gardens just like what JAVEGA is doing now,” she said.

Trigo noted that the residents of Jaboy not only have a source of nutritious food, but more importantly, the communal farm has created a positive change among the people as they become productive.

She said she wants to help Jaboy residents more, noting that her family owns a land there, which she is offering for the farmers to use so they can expand their communal garden.

Jaboy is now one of the villages that supply organic vegetables not only in the town center but also in the neighboring municipalities of General Luna and Dapa.

The communal farm started with only 2,200 square meters of land and planted with a variety of vegetables at a vacant lot of Jaboy Elementary School. JAVEGA will be expanding its farm to two hectares. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)