(This article is also posted on Rappler.)
To the general public, Mindanao is known for many things – but not its farmers.
People perceive the region as a hotbed of endless conflict. At best, it’s the cradle for the Philippines’ vibrant Muslim community and its rich culture.
Somewhere underneath all the noise are Mindanao’s farmers who share the same problems with other farmers all over the country. The difference is, their plight is compounded by conflict. In places where lives are ended by misunderstanding, they struggle to grow life from the soil.
Far from the country’s capital and divided into peace and war zones, the people of Mindanao see no other choice but to help themselves. One group that has taken the initiative is the Ecosystems Work for Essential Benefits (EcoWEB).