FOR THE LOVE OF THE INDUSTRY (The “Campo” Narrative, 1 of 5 parts)

“share through the help, guidance and support

of other people, who like anyone else including

myself, wish and dream to enjoy the economic

benefits brought about by my beloved banana industry”

(Photo credits to the owner – Banambo)

banambo

Growing up at the main compound, where some of workers, supervisors, office staff and mangers live, of the pioneer banana plantation of my town, Davao Fruits Corporation, I was encourage by my parents take agriculture (AgriBus, Aggies, AgEng, whatever!) for a college course.  I chose Accountancy instead, not because I want to disappoint my parents but because of some other reasons I cannot even articulate before and even now.

Our place was called “Campo” ( in our town, in the 80’s, we were fondly referred to as “taga Campo”), I do not know why, maybe a short name for compound because it was an isolated compound comparable to a camp of military or their insurgent counterpart.  It was Cavendish Banana plantation, owned by the famous and the late agriculture technocrat, philanthropist and change maker Jesus V. Ayala, a.k.a. Chito Ayala (JVA).

Living in “Campo”, from birth up to my early twenties, I was exposed to most, if not all, activities in growing Cavendish Banana.  From land preparation, to nursery development, to ditching and irrigation, to plant care and crop protection, to harvesting and processing, to expediter works to handling/trucking, to office works and people supervision, among others.  Without any formal agriculture education background, I believe I’ve learned through my personal knowledge and experiences, the fundamentals and the basics of the craft and have been built within my system the lessons I have whenever, wherever, whatever and however I will go, do, and to any circumstances I will be into at any given time.  By auto-pilot, I can actively share and participate fair and square discussions with whoever I talk to when the topic is all about Cavendish Banana.

Life inside “Campo” was the typical “corporate built community” of large companies in the 70’s and 80’s, before “grower-ship” was introduced to banana plantations. At that time, there was one community almost similar but comparatively larger and more equipped than ours, the Valderama Lumber Co., very well-known during the time as “Valma”, a short name for Valderama.   ( Nganong hilig man gyud tong panahona ug pinamubo nga pangalan ang lugar sama sa Campo ug Valma?).

Inhabiting the place is actually seeing for yourself activities, procedures, processes and system of how the plantation was operated.  As early as 7 years old, I’ve known many things every common seven-year-olds do not know about plantation operations.  Things like nursery and tissue culture, where samples of banana sprouts were processed in in laboratories to develop into a seedlings and planted individually in small black seed bags and neatly lined these in groups of 50s or 100s inside the enclose makeshift made by bamboo poles enclosed by blacks nets and roofed with coconut leaves or cogon.  Our house was adjacent to the facility.

Moreover, little did everyone knows that as early as my elementary years, I’ve already known what sigatoka, moko, bunchy top, fruit spots, among others, common fatal diseases of the fruit,  were look like, how the workers detected, treated and controlled them to avoid damages to production.  As early as my high school years, I already have the idea on the distinctions and differences among pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.  And believe it or not, I experienced the smelly showers of chemical, directly to my whole body parts, poured down by airplanes performing aerial spraying of fungicides to treat and control sigatoka, a fungal disease that would infect the leaves making these non-functional and will affect the growth by interrupting the process by which green plants utilize the sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water, called photosynthesis.

Knowledge acquired includes, but not limited, to my understanding of the importance of water and irrigation system to the growing of the fruits.  I can still remember the use of “rain bird”, an invention I do not who invented it, carted by a Ford Tractor, driven by Nong Ebiong, passing through the block roads and showering water atop the plants to prevent dehydration during the long period of dry spells.  Even more observable was the establishment of dams in water ways and creeks to impound the water in the primary canals, thereby paving ways to water the secondary and tertiary canals, for certain period of time, again to prevent dehydration of fruits on dry season.

These experiences, among others not mentioned, sculpted my person to develop affection to banana industry, not to mention the income of my parents that provided our family to enjoy the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, health, education and recreation.

Connecting the dots, by looking backward as Steve Jobs taught us, I am now mature enough to pay back to the industry I most loved.  After more than 20-year-long isolation from Cavendish Banana, by virtue of choices and of circumstances, I’m back full of hope that in one way or the other, I can share for good not only towards the protection and sustenance of the industry but also to the people sourced their living and livelihood from it, including myself who currently is a farmer by occupation planting banana for a living.

I need not be an agriculturist to do my cause.  With this passion and love I have, I believe I can express to whatever avenues I have to make my case understood and considered.  There are much that need to be done and little by little, in slowly but continuously pace, I can share through the help, guidance and support of other people, who like anyone else including myself, wish and dream to enjoy the economic benefits brought about by my beloved banana industry.

Before going further by taking bold and concrete actions, I need to state that I will play a friendly non-conformist role in some cases and situation.  I should and must be critical, not to downplay the status quo but to widen the horizon and level the playing field.

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