Interfaith Trust Drives Rice Growing Success

Decades of respect and trust between two communities, one Muslim and one Christian, have led to a successful rice-growing cooperative in the Philippines. The Liton, Kibales, Magatos Irrigators Association (LKM-IA) has flourished with support from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and funding from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

UN News/Daniel Dickinson – Rice is milled by the Liton, Kibales, Magatos Irrigators Association.

Building a Cooperative

The communities live close to each other near Kabacan in central Mindanao, an area historically affected by separatist violence. Now, they are working towards greater self-rule for the Muslim majority. Ahead of the International Day of Cooperatives, UN News’s Daniel Dickinson visited Kabacan and met two LKM-IA members: Treasurer Marcializa Calud, a Christian, and Auditor Mona Usman, a Muslim.

Growth and Support

Marcializa shared that the association started in 2015 with just 250 pesos ($4) and grew to an income of 1.65 million pesos ($28,000) last year. Careful planning and management, along with support from KOICA and FAO, including seeds, fertilizers, and machines, have been crucial to their growth.

Mona highlighted the importance of the machinery they received, such as a rotavator for ploughing, a combine harvester for harvesting, and a milling machine for processing rice. These machines, rented to members, have greatly increased productivity. Plowing a one-hectare field now takes one hour instead of a whole day, and harvesting takes one to two hours instead of two days.

Economic Benefits

The cooperative’s machinery has also improved financial outcomes. Previously, farmers had to rent a combine harvester from a private lender, who took 10% of the crop’s value. Now, with their own harvester, the cooperative takes 9%, and farmers keep 91%, making a significant difference.

Challenges and Solutions

Water access remains a major concern, especially during dry periods like the recent El Niño event. The cooperative had to negotiate with upstream communities for sufficient water. Climate change also poses a threat to rice cultivation, which relies on water-filled paddy fields.

Unity and Respect

The cooperative’s success stems from deep-rooted trust and respect between the Muslim and Christian communities. Mona’s grandfather, a former Mujahideen, welcomed Christian settlers, fostering a lasting bond. Today, children from both communities play together, reflecting this legacy of mutual respect.

Changing Perceptions

Marcializa and Mona emphasize that the perception of conflict between Muslims and Christians is misguided. Their association exemplifies cooperation and mutual respect, a tradition they pass down to their children.

Future Aspirations

Despite progress, the community still faces challenges. They aim to ensure access to healthcare, education, and sufficient food for all. Above all, they seek lasting peace.

Economic Improvements

Thanks to new machinery, the farmers’ financial situation has improved. As Marcializa noted, the days of being “short,” “failing,” and needing “overdrafts” are over. They are now making money and looking forward to a more stable future.

In summary, the LKM-IA cooperative showcases how interfaith trust and cooperation can lead to significant community success and prosperity in the Philippines.

Re-reported from the article originally published in UN News

Interfaith Trust Drives Rice Growing Success

Decades of respect and trust between two communities, one Muslim and one Christian, have led to a successful rice-growing cooperative in the Philippines. The Liton, Kibales, Magatos Irrigators Association (LKM-IA) has flourished with support from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and funding from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

UN News/Daniel Dickinson – Rice is milled by the Liton, Kibales, Magatos Irrigators Association.

Building a Cooperative

The communities live close to each other near Kabacan in central Mindanao, an area historically affected by separatist violence. Now, they are working towards greater self-rule for the Muslim majority. Ahead of the International Day of Cooperatives, UN News’s Daniel Dickinson visited Kabacan and met two LKM-IA members: Treasurer Marcializa Calud, a Christian, and Auditor Mona Usman, a Muslim.

Growth and Support

Marcializa shared that the association started in 2015 with just 250 pesos ($4) and grew to an income of 1.65 million pesos ($28,000) last year. Careful planning and management, along with support from KOICA and FAO, including seeds, fertilizers, and machines, have been crucial to their growth.

Mona highlighted the importance of the machinery they received, such as a rotavator for ploughing, a combine harvester for harvesting, and a milling machine for processing rice. These machines, rented to members, have greatly increased productivity. Plowing a one-hectare field now takes one hour instead of a whole day, and harvesting takes one to two hours instead of two days.

Economic Benefits

The cooperative’s machinery has also improved financial outcomes. Previously, farmers had to rent a combine harvester from a private lender, who took 10% of the crop’s value. Now, with their own harvester, the cooperative takes 9%, and farmers keep 91%, making a significant difference.

Challenges and Solutions

Water access remains a major concern, especially during dry periods like the recent El Niño event. The cooperative had to negotiate with upstream communities for sufficient water. Climate change also poses a threat to rice cultivation, which relies on water-filled paddy fields.

Unity and Respect

The cooperative’s success stems from deep-rooted trust and respect between the Muslim and Christian communities. Mona’s grandfather, a former Mujahideen, welcomed Christian settlers, fostering a lasting bond. Today, children from both communities play together, reflecting this legacy of mutual respect.

Changing Perceptions

Marcializa and Mona emphasize that the perception of conflict between Muslims and Christians is misguided. Their association exemplifies cooperation and mutual respect, a tradition they pass down to their children.

Future Aspirations

Despite progress, the community still faces challenges. They aim to ensure access to healthcare, education, and sufficient food for all. Above all, they seek lasting peace.

Economic Improvements

Thanks to new machinery, the farmers’ financial situation has improved. As Marcializa noted, the days of being “short,” “failing,” and needing “overdrafts” are over. They are now making money and looking forward to a more stable future.

In summary, the LKM-IA cooperative showcases how interfaith trust and cooperation can lead to significant community success and prosperity in the Philippines.

Re-reported from the article originally published in UN News