It’s no secret that farmers, like everyone else, are suffering because of the necessary quarantine procedures imposed to stop the spread of COVID-19.

It’s important that consumers ramp up support for local farmers, who are considered backliners in the fight against COVID-19 because they supply Filipinos with nutritious meat and vegetables necessary for good health and a strong immune system.

Slowdown in tourism

MAD Travel, a social tourism enterprise that, along with its sister companies Tribes and Treks and Circle Hostel, are trying to help the Yangil community of Zambales, who they have been working with since 2016. “There are about 45 families and they live in Sitio Sagpat, San felipe Zambales. Its Mt Pintubo terrain,” says MAD Travel co-founder Raf Dionisio.

Travel has understandably been restricted since the start of the quarantine period. This has affected communities like the Yangil, who rely on tourism and per-day jobs for their daily income. “COVID-19 has stopped all tourism march until the foreseeable future,” Dionisio said. “It has also stopped their side  jobs in construction or farming in other towns as they were sent home.”

MAD Travel is crowdsourcing funds to buy trees to offer the farmers in their partner community an alternative livelihood during lean times.

Cultivating future farmers

The organization is looking for alternative ways to keep its partner community thriving during the lead season. “They don’t have much forest, and as a result, don’t have much water. They are farmers but cant plan’t a lot in the summer,” Dionisio says.

One way to do this is to hire them to plant trees for future harvest. “We are not donating trees – we will hire them to grow seedlings. Rather than donate in the traditional way where we give food or cash, we want them to work for the money in a way that they can maximize their skills, stay safe, AND earn a living,” Dionisio said.

The organization is crowdfunding to help partner communities augment the income lost from the halt in tourism due to COVID-19.

A need for seed

The organization is looking for donors who will buy seeds to support this short-term seedling growing livelihood program.

As their website says:

“The approaching summer months also means a decline in vegetable supply. And while we have been planting with our partners for the past years, most of our fruit trees are not mature enough to lead to a bounty. Soon, food will run short for these communities .

“Our business model simply cannot take the strain of this crisis to support our partners by ourselves. We are shifting our ways to support our entire team- community partners and all – and need your help to make sure we do not leave anyone behind.”

They are looking to plant hardy trees like cashew, agoho, and narra.

“In three months when the seedlings grow, it will be end of June and the rains will come. We can then hire them again to plant these seedlings in the mountains,” Dionisio added.

Donors can help buy buying trees that the partner farmers will be paid to plant.

How you can help

Donors can buy one to as many trees as they want as a donation to the enterprise. “They will get a geotag of the area where the tree is and they will receive monthly updates from us on this,” Dionisio says.

Donors may get freebies as well depending on how many trees they buy.

Donors can buy one or more trees for the farmers to grow.

Packages are as follows:

Php 150 (3 USD) = 1 Fruit Tree
Php 500 (10 USD) = 3 Fruit Trees + MAD Sticker
Php 1,000 (20 USD) = 6 Fruit Trees + Bamboo Straw
Php 2,500 (50 USD) = 10 Fruit Trees + The Genius of the Poor Book by our co-founder, Tom Graham
Php 5,000 (100 USD) = 30 Fruit Trees + MAD Sticker & Organic Cotton Shirt
Php 10,000 (200 USD) = 50 Fruit Trees + Tour Voucher (for you or a friend!)
Php 25,000 (500 USD) = 150 Fruit Trees + Online Social Entrepreneurship Course

Find more information on the MAD travel website.

Featured image by Mathis Jrdl on Unsplash