LOS ANGELES, Butuan City – Believing that the development of a country is a collective effort, Dr. Luz Taposok of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) with various regional agency directors and Lumad leaders recently set a meeting to provide vital inputs on the CARAGA Convergence Initiative (CCI) project led by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Solutions (GPSS) and the Indigenous People’s Economic Union (IPEU).
Taposok assured the project coordinators and the Lumad representatives that they will have the full support of the Institute and the development intervention will be communicated to the general public. She remarked that this is a way to show how to make a difference through shared commitments.
She stated, “We will make it (the initiative), we will let it be seen.”
The Institute will continuously implement integrated training programs for the IPs to help capacitate and educate local people on the latest agricultural technologies.
Samuel Calonzo, Training Center Superintendent of ATI - CARAGA indicated that a practical way to also train the IPs is through demonstration farms showcasing different practices that the IPs can apply in their ancestral lands.
Likewise, various suggestions were raised by other agencies involved namely the Department of Agriculture – Regional Filed Office (DA-RFO), Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Local Government of Tubay, and Banowaon-Manobo-Talaandig (BAMATA).
Discussions on the current condition of the IPs in CARAGA, the problems they have been facing for a long period of time and the role of public-private collaboration to improve the situation of the ethnic groups were conducted.
Mr. Bryan Thomas of the GPSS and head of the CCI project, noted that cutting trees has been the only way of the IPs to feed themselves and their families. Some even resort into rebellion. He further explained that aside from hunger, lack of farm to market roads, school and health care, the IPs are also not included in the census.
Thomas has been staying in the country for years and has witnessed the injustices experienced by the IPs. He insisted, “We have to do something different. We do not have to destroy the culture because of kwarta (money).”
The CCI is a development project focusing on the poor, land-holding IPs in the CARAGA region. It intends to bring private institutions and relevant government agencies together and create collaborative impact platform for the development of tribal lands covered by the Certificates of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT).
Prior to the meeting, the regional agency leaders and representatives visited the historical places of Butuan to have a glimpse of the Lumad’s background and culture.
The CCI forum was held last July 19, 2017 in ATI-RTC XIII.