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Despite the fact that Philippines is known as Worlds Top Producer of Abaca, abaca farmers
still suffer most from poverty. According to Department of Science and Technology-Philippine
Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOSTPCAARRD), farming is the lifeblood of more than 200,000 families in the 56 abaca-growing
provinces in the Philippines. Yet, these small abaca farmers get little income compared to the
farmers of other crops. Problems such as environmental dilemma, lack of transportation services,
absence of high yielding planting materials and small attention given by the government were
visibly seen in Kara Davids documentary film entitled I Witness: Minsan sa Isang Taon.
Farmer Tusan Tango of Sitio Bali in Saranggani Province is one of those unfortunate 200,000
families. Abaca is a type of plant wherein it grows only in areas near bodies of water or in areas
that are shaded and cool. But due to El Nio and depletion of the forest, he gets to harvest only
once a year, in which in return he gets paid for only P1000.00 so thats roughly P80.00 per
month. Lack of Transportation Services has also been one of the problems not only for Tusan
Tango but also for the other abaca farmers of the Philippine. Reports say that poorly designed
infrastructures in small provinces sometimes hinder the distribution of abaca especially when
natural phenomena occurs. But with Tusan Tangoa case or farmers who lives in the mountains,
walking for hours is the only option for them to deliver their harvested crops. With the absence
of high yielding planting materials and equipment in abaca provinces and lack of transportation,
production inefficiency may highly take place which results to continuous declining of the abaca
production. In the recently signed National Budget for 2016, Department of Agriculture was
given a little importance in terms of budget, in figures P48 billion, it is lower compared to the
other agencies. In addition, there was no allocated funds for the El Nio, in which PAG-ASA
reported that this dry season may intensify this year and cause severe drought and damage the
plantations. This will surely affect our economic growth as well as the life of our farmers.
Until today, Agriculture has always been the source of livelihood for many Filipinos, for we
were given abundance of Gods gift which is the natural resources. However, due to power and
greed, people tend to abuse these gifts and little did they know, the one who will suffer the most
are the less fortunate people. So if the depletion of forests worsen, abaca trees will not grow any
longer and may seriously affect our economy and lives of the people. Our country relies on
farmers a lot, because without them there will be no products that us, people, can use. It was so
disappointing to see that those who deserve all satisfactions in life, cannot even get to eat a
decent meal a day. Even if the government provide planting materials and equipment, the one
who will benefit the most are the business men and not the individual farmer. Citing what Raul
Montemayor of the Federation of Free Farmers Cooperatives once mentioned, "The market is
there but farmers are not organized for the market. Restaurants, groceries are buying farm
products everyday but the ones supplying them are the trader who gets it from different farmers.
Farmers can go straight to the market if they form a cooperative,"
If these issues are not properly addressed by the Government, Philippines leadership in
exporting abaca might lose in the future, making abaca farmers become poorest of the poor.
Lastly, as an Architecture student, this film served as an eye opener for me. It inspired me to
think of a solution to address the problem especially on tranportation. Designing an infrastructure
to make transportation accessible to these Farmers may help so that there will be roads available
for vehicles to transport their goods rapidly.