January 20, 2022
Tzu Chi volunteers, indigenous Davao farmers plant 2,500 banana seedlings
By Joy Rojas
Following the instructions of Dharma Master Cheng Yen, Tzu Chi volunteers in Davao recently began a banana tree-planting initiative with farmers in Talaingod, a municipality some 130 kilometers away from downtown Davao. The initiative is part of Tzu Chi’s poverty alleviation program for the indigenous tribes of Davao del Norte.
Bearing 2,500 banana seedlings, Tzu Chi Davao volunteers led by Nelson Chua traveled more than three hours through mountainous roads to reach their destination. Once there, farmers’ families helped plant the seedlings in a 52-hectare spread of land that can accommodate over 52,000 banana trees. Locals estimate their efforts to yield fruit by next year. They also predict sweet bananas, given the rich soil and organic fertilizers used.
In the weeks to come, volunteers will continue to provide farmers with seeds and fertilizer and assist with the weeding. With this regular interaction, it is the volunteers’ hope that they plant not just the seeds to a bountiful harvest but the seeds to a promising future ahead for these farmers, with the cooperation of Tzu Chi volunteers.
Since 2020, Tzu Chi Davao has been extending assistance to various indigenous groups in the area. In the past two years, more than 3,000 families have received Tzu Chi rice and other basic necessities. As a long-term and sustainable solution to overcoming poverty, volunteers coordinated with local government officers to create a poverty alleviation plan. This teaches poor households to be self-sufficient enough to give their families a better life.
The plan received the support and blessings of the Venerable Master.