Can illegal logging be stopped without bloodshed? Yes, that can be done by providing the illegal loggers with another source of livelihood that will also lead to the protection of the forest.
That’s what Yamang Bukid Farm achieved starting in 2017 when it began developing an organic farm in the remote Barangay of Bacungan in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. The illegal loggers were hired and trained by competent agriculturists to became knowledgeable farm workers, inculcating the importance of maintaining forests, biodiversity and sustainable farming practices.
Today Yamang Bukid Farm employs 286 men and women of Bacungan who were all illegally cutting trees for making charcoal before. They are well paid because they are paid P320 a day compared to P275 minimum daily wage mandated by law in Palawan. They are also well-fed because they get free lunch and snacks. Children of employees are given an allowancee of P20 each every time they go to school.
Daniel Anjan, 43, who is a Kagawad in the barangay and former Bantay Gubat pointman, was instrumental in convincing the illegal loggers to give up their illegal cutting of trees. The first priority in hiring were the chainsaw owners. Some of them were reluctant in the beginning because they were not sure if the Yamang Bukid Farm can sustain the higher wages and other perks. But it did not take long for them to be convinced that the farm can well sustain their employment.
Among the beneficiaries of Yamang Bukid Farm are Daniel Anjan and his wife Margie. As farm manager of YBF, Anjan receives a six-figure monthly pay while his wife also gets a good compensation as head of the Kakanin House that prepares native delicacies for the two restaurants of the farm or for bringing home as “pasalubong.”
(In subsequent posts, we will feature the projects of Yamang Bukid Farm that will sustain the higher pay for the workers and other perks.)