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Kauyagan: More than a way of life

Kauyagan: More than a way of life

Impasug-ong, Bukidnon –  Nestled amidst scenic landscapes and marked by warm hospitality, the municipality of Impasug-ong stands as a hidden gem in Mindanao. Well-known as the “Rodeo capital of Mindanao,” the town features sprawling ranches that attract tourists. 

In the lush uplands, indigenous communities like the Higaonons cultivate coffee, corn, and abaca as their main livelihood. Behind unpaved roads is Barangay Guihean, a village where young farmers like Jemel Aninloy, 24, dream of a brighter future for his family. 

“Much of my time is dedicated to tending our farm. Aside from coffee, we also plant abaca, rubber, and a variety of vegetables,” he said. 

Like many farmers, Jemel has faced challenges while working in the fields. At times, they struggled to transport their produce because there were no vehicles to hire. 

Empowering farmers through the Impasug-ong Crops Development Project

In 2020, the Kauyagan Savers Multipurpose Cooperative (KSMPC) launched the Impasug-ong Crops Development Project in partnership with the Peace and Equity Foundation. This initiative aims to increase farmers’ income by consolidating the production of coffee, corn, and abaca while also providing them with essential training to boost farm productivity. 

Under this scheme, the cooperative procures farmers’ produce through designated consolidators from each participating barangay. These consolidators will then bring the crops to the KSMPC office. Compared to other traders, the cooperative offers competitive rates, thereby strengthening the farmers’ economic resilience.  

“We also teach them how to manage pests and diseases in their farms. We also train them on post-harvesting techniques to minimize losses and wastages,” emphasizes Imelda Esteban, KSMPC General Manager. 

Neil Guinontao, an officer at KSMPC and a farm technician, reveals that the cooperative supplements farmers’ income by adding Php2 to Php3 per kilo sold and covering transportation costs to the town center. 

“Farmers are also linked to other organizations supporting the coffee industry. Through PEF, they can join coffee exhibitions and competitions,” he said. 

Jemel attests to the significant positive change in his life due to the support of KSMPC.

“Comparing the past with the present, life is definitely more comfortable now because of the tools and technology provided by the cooperative. The higher prices they offer enable us to save and invest in our future.”

For the indigenous peoples, kauyagan embodies a way of life. But for farmers and KSMPC, it symbolizes much more.

“Kauyagan also means livelihood. It represents a state where farmers can uplift their lives and achieve greater prosperity,” remarked Esteban. ###