Monday, December 17, 2007

Montañosa Research Development Center (MRDC)

MRDC was established in 1978 and it was the first NGO in Mt. Province. The MRDC speaker, Mr. Robert Pangod, explain that the reason behind the establishment of this NGO was the result of a conflict between government and local groups (like CPA), to find a way to create sustainable agriculture, that is culturally acceptable, environmentally friendly, and also as a source for alternative energy.

After 30 years, MRDC was able to encourage most of the Cordillera region into organic farming (something that the government did not do). They started the Microhydro project (the first one in the Philippines) and established the longest-lasting generator. The Microhydro Project is a program to generate canal water into producing electric current and the current is used to distribute the lighting system in small villages and to power agricultural tools.

MRDC is involved in traditional agriculture and at the same time adapting new technology. In order to keep the balance and to decide which techniques should or should not be used. MRDC is slowly changing the perception of people, to get them to maintain a vegetable garden. As seen in Sagada, the current trend is for many people to have vegetable plots, as it allows maximum use of the soil. Back in the 1980’s very few NGO’s promoted farming, but thankfully it wasn’t too late to maintain a safe and fertile soil. Now people plant broccoli, potatoes and other vegetables.

Organic fertilizer can be produced 10-20 times a month in small portions. And MRDC has not only introduced fertilizer but also introduced new breeds of seeds, and new methods of seed selection. They do not find it hard to introduce and convince the indigenous people to use advance technology as compared to the traditional systems as the new methods have proven to increase crops. Indigenous people know that the change in the system is for their benefit. If the indigenous people stick with the traditional system of farming, they would need a minimum of three years to get the same amount of produce. Organic farming yields more in the long run and is a more fruitful option.

MRDC does not just conduct community farming. It also organizes music shows, performance arts, focusing on the agricultural aspect and raising awareness amongst the people. They also support CPA programs. For this reason, government threats do take place. For example, recently the chairman of MRDC, Dr. Claver and his wife were ambushed. And the MRDC office at Sagada, is constantly being watched by guards.

One of the most recent projects by MRDC was to assign the distribution of water. Water is the main source of tribal conflict among rice terraces and water hills. The distribution of water is assigned to one or two people and used as a practical means to reduce conflict with the distribution of water.

Another issue that was recently handled, is the problem of giant earth worms. These giant earth worm could be as small as the size of a thumb, yet also as large as that of a snake. They do not harm the vegetables. However, these giant earth worms would dig a hole right through the water walls or the rice fields draining out all the water in the rice terraces and causing the rice fields to dry up. MRDC has been trying to find a solution to obliterate these giant earth worms.

Another campaign that MRDC tries to encourage is the cause to save the forest. They continue to this day to fight against multinational co-operations. MRDC tries to persuade people to have more concern for the environment and to not only think of financial benefits but to also consider the ethical investments. “Here, we are not trying to welcome big companies who have an interest towards mining. We are more keen to accept companies who respect the culture of the people and want to support agriculture” said Robert Pangod.

By Dyah

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

MRDC is another corrupt Philippine organisation that exists purely to line its members pockets with easy cash donated by foolish western do gooders.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this 'anonymous', who said that MRDC is a corrupt Philippine ofganization, has any basis on what she/he is saying aside from mere "freedom of expression". Waay kadi adi na getken nan kankanana dapay aped kakali kali.

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