“Below these branches are the roots,” Ruben Tagapan said before slowly placing some fertilizers on the ground where he believes the roots are located.
“Sometimes, I let my nephews help me especially during summer when they have no classes. But please don’t tell authorities,” he added, feeling a bit anxious. “Bawal ba na ma’am (is it prohibited)?” I smiled a little before I explained that it isn’t child labor unless kids are taken off from school to merely work especially in environments hazardous to them.
“Ah, malipay ra man pud sila muanhi ug walay klase (The kids are just happy to come here when they have no classes),” Ruben said.
His one-hectare area in Tampilisan, Zamboanga del Norte, is dedicated only to rubber. Being a farmer his entire life, Ruben said that he has planted all sorts of crops. But since 2010, he started planting rubber despite not knowing where to take his produce. “Na-uso man gud ma’am, nisunod na lang pud mi (It became popular here so we just followed what others did).”
We visited his farm on a warm summer day as part of our project’s geotagging initiative in Zamboanga del Norte. Because of the scattered location of each farmer-partner of Project ConVERGE, it is difficult to monitor the real scale of the outreach. Moreso, some data on the interventions and its recipients tend to be lost along the way.
The province of Zamboanga del Norte believes that being able to document the farms through a geotagging app enables them to record all areas of concern. Aside from location, key questions include the provisions given to the beneficiary. It helps allocate resources better with data collected and stored.
According to app developer Engr. Noel Credo, they have patterned their geotagging system to the one created by a separate DAR project called iTEMA. However, due to limited resources, the unit did not buy a separate program but instead used free versions available for minor tweaks on Google Play.
“It’s a fairly easy to use program that can be utilized by the management and the staff. Here, we store data on location and even include information on farm operations. It’s a one-stop for almost every data we need on the farmer-partner and his/her farm,” Credo said.
While a low-cost app, it has already generated information which can prove valuable to monitoring and evaluating farms from far areas, such as those owned by Ruben.
To Ruben and his co-farmers, it may seem as just another day on the field with visitors from the project. Yet to the implementers, it is another day to not only meet with their partners, but to also make sure that their businesses are doing well. And if not, appropriate action may be done in the future through results of their monitoring effort.
Details on the monitored areas are here: http://bit.ly/2Zi2gFT