Batak farmers are replanting in hopes of earning more for their families by looking for established vegetable buyers as they return to planting this year.
It is the second planting of vegetables by the Batak indigenous people in Sitio Tagnaya, Barangay Concepcion. All of their plants were damaged by Typhoon Odette in 2021, and they are gradually returning to farming.
Community organizer Rosal Rodriguez-Delos Angeles believes that establishing a market at a reasonable price for the community’s harvests would further encourage farmers to continue planting.
“Hinihikayat ko sila na magtanim kasi ‘yon ang nakikita ko na malaking maitutulong sa kanila. Before Odette, malawak ang ipinatanim ko sa kanila na saging para sa community. Nagbunga na sana kaso nawala lahat kaya medyo nawalan din sila pag-asa,” she said.
Some of the livelihoods of Batak individuals depend on sources like almaciga and rattan gathering and the harvesting of honey. Selling vegetables could supplement the needs of families during the days they are not in the forest.
The livelihood sources in the forest were greatly damaged by the onslaught of Typhoon Odette in 2021. It also washed out most of the houses, including their event center, which serves as a performance venue for tourists.
Recently, she posted a call for buyers on the Facebook page of the Batak Visitor Center. Fortunately, some government offices, private institutions, and nearby barangays responded by becoming buyers.
From just selling their harvests around the community, Batak farmers expect to reach more markets in the coming weeks for another batch of harvests. If the market is continuous and stable, the livelihood could also be sustainable for farmers.
The vegetable harvests of the community include eggplants, string beans, and lady’s fingers, or okra. About three families are now hands-on in planting this season, while all members commit before the onset of the dry season.
The favorable weather conditions for vegetables and the interest of other buyers who have seen their online call also encourage farmers to continue planting.
Aside from earning additional income for their families, Delos Angeles also believes planting could also fulfill household requirements for the food of every Batak family.
“Merun na sila pambili ng mga pangunahing pangangailangan nila. Hindi na sila bibili ng gulay sa labas, hindi sila magugutom kapag may pananim lalo na ang mga bata ay makakakain ng masustansyang gulay,” she said.
Interested buyers may connect to 0955 996 9991 or message their Facebook page, Batak Visitor Center-Brgy.Concepcion PPC, for inquiries and orders.