MOTIONG, Samar- Soldiers are becoming partners to farmers of this impoverished town by helping them sell their produce and ensuring a peaceful condition for them to have a safer and productive lives.  The members of the 87th Infantry Battalion headed by Lt. Col.Antonio Dulnuan helped the farmers plant other crop varieties like vegetables and peanuts. Farmers of this town continue to feel the economic losses they sustained due to Yolanda’s fury, reducing their already poverty-stricken lives to almost to nothing. Poor road condition also hinders the farmers to sell their produce to the market at the town proper. They have also to contend the unscrupulous middlemen. Aware on such situation, the 87th Infantry Battalion (87IB) planned to help the farmers establish a productive and friendly agricultural market closer to home. Not only would the farmers save on travel costs, they would also avoid paying middlemen, as buyers come directly to them thereby increasing their profits by nearly 50%. Rosita Gabin of Barangay Hinicaan, of this town, just like over a hundred farmers from nearby villages, has re-established again their farmlands amidst the hardship of poverty. With the expected earnings coming from their small vegetable gardens, they would be able to send their children to school and imagine a better future for them. “We are praying that peace and abundance will stay here forever,” Gabin said.

Gabin is one of the more than 100 hundred farmers in Samar who are rebuilding their livelihoods through the Cadac-an Peanut Growers Association (CPGA). The 87IB is helping these small farmers to improve their incomes and recover from the destruction cause by Yolanda. Conflict and poverty are inextricably linked, Dulnuan said. “Conflict is one of the traps that keep under-develop countries remains poor. It’s a vicious cycle-conflict reduces incomes, whole poverty heightens the risk of internal instability. On the other hand, economic growth reduces the risk of conflict,” Dulnuan said.

“Giving people the opportunity to earn a living is one of the best ways to guarantee a lasting peace,” he stressed. “We want to secure the rights of the people living in poverty to food and income security and decent work within the context of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; thus, reducing inequality, and ensuring the sustainable use of land and water.” Dulnuan added. The members of the CPGA were trained to learn proper farming techniques for peanuts; strengthen their internal administration; and influence participation of the local government unit and other organizations. (JAZMIN BONIFACIO)