15 Jun Report from Highland Rice Terraces Farmers’ Forum
Approximately 200 high-elevation farmers from across the Cordillera region gathered in Bauko, Mountain Province on May 28, 2009 for a Highland Rice Terraces Farmers Forum. Unfortunately, fog and heavy rain caused the cancellation of Secretary Yap’s appearance at the forum. The Secretary’s helicopter was unable to land at the hotel due to the weather. A recent helicopter accident with an advance presidential party has made everyone very conscious of the need to respect weather conditions in the mountains.
Even though the Secretary’s presence was greatly missed, the forum proceeded on schedule and was ably facilitated by DA-NIA.
Six resolutions were passed by the forum after the farmers discussed the issues and concerns that they are facing. The regional DA representatives will present these resolutions to the Secretary. Vice Mayor Dickus, who accompanied eight farmers from Lubuagan (Kalinga), thought the forum was a success, despite the absence of Secretary Yap. It was the first time that his farmers had had an opportunity to share their concerns with other farmers from across the region.
This first-ever forum –exclusively for farmers in the Cordillera highlands– was attended by rice terrace farmers and farmers who have converted their terraces to the growing of mixed vegetables.
Vicky Garcia was also positive about the results of the meeting. The Department of Agriculture is “starting to recognize the uniqueness of the region’s terrain and realize it is time to balance its support for the farmers. This realization alone is an accomplishment.”