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Continuing its advocacy to reduce incidence of child labor, the Sugar Industry Foundation, Inc.’s (SIFI) Responsible Sourcing from Small Landholders (RSS) project launched its Vegetable Gardening by Children initiative together with the Sitio Tayap Upland Farmers and Workers Association (STUFAWA) in Purok Marka Sitio Tayap Brgy. Patag, Silay City last May 20, 2021.

The Vegetable Gardening by Children is part of the RSS – Integrated ARBO CL (child labour) and PPE (personal protective equipment) Program and Services or IACAP Program. The ARBO – led programs are geared towards ensuring the safety and protection of children and workers in the sugar farm.

STUFAWA is one of the 8 Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organizations (ARBOs) from 3 partner mills; Lopez Sugar Corporation, Victorias Milling, and Hawaiian Philippine Company who are the first to take on this initiative.

LEARNING BY DOING. Junior Agriculturist Rhyan Dairo (R) together with 11 year old Jun Mark dela Cruz (L) demonstrating soil medium preparation to other participants.

“Kadako gid ni ang mabulig sang ini nga programa sa mga child laborer, kay para ang mga kabataan indi mawili sa kampo. Kalabanan gid diri sa amon nga mga kabataan nagabulig sa kampo”, Evangeline Regenio, STUFAWA Board of Director said.

[“This program will be a great help to discourage child laborers from working in the fields. Most of our children here help out in the fields”, Evangeline Regenio, STUFAWA Board of Director said.]

“Very good gid ini ang vegetable gardening kay mga kabataan mafocus na diri kag besides sina makwartahan man nila kay kabalo na sila magtanom kag paano magcater sang mga bisita nga makaencourage man sa iban nga mga kabataan nga mananom.

[“This vegetable gardening program is a very good initiative since the children will have their focus on something and it can also be a source of income for them. They will learn how to do proper gardening and also learn how to cater to guests. This can also encourage other children to do gardening”, she added.]

Rhyan Dario, SIFI RSS Junior Agriculturist, conducted the lecture in soil medium preparation, seed preparation, transplanting, monitoring and maintenance, and harvesting. He also taught the children, as well as the parents present, how to make plant containers from recyclable waste materials found in sugar fields such as plastic bottles and empty sacks as well as indigenous materials.

“Mas mayo ni nga proyekto para sa mga bata kay makabulig ni sa ila adlaw adlaw nga pagtu-on kay ga-modular man sila subong. Ang ila other activities mahampang, so mas maayo nga ang SIFI naghiwat sang isa ka proyekto para makahatag iban nga mga skills sa mga bata”, Aiko Lyn Latoza, STUFAWA’s secretary said.

[“This is a good project for the children as this will help them in their studies since they do modular learning. Their other activities are mostly playing so this will also give them necessary skills they need”, Aiko Lyn Latoza, STUFAWA’s secretary said.]

“Nami kay makabulig sa komunidad kag makakwarta ko,” 11-year-old Jun Mark Dela Cruz happily said.

[It’s great because it can help the community and I will have money, 11-year-old Jun Mark dela Cruz happily said.]

The SIFI – RSS program envisions gradually lessening and mitigating child labor incidence in the sugar fields.