Sitio Pactil is a farming-based community located at Bauko Monamon Sur, Mountain Province. The community thrives on farming high-land crops such as potatoes, carrots, and cabbages. In 2013, the community decided to take up mushrooom production as one of their livelihood programs. Mushroom production contributes to the community in two ways: financially and as a source of food.
Residents of the community who are interested in joining the organization are taught the basic knowledge of harvesting and can earn by helping out the organization. Volunteers are valuable to the organization as most of the members are also farmers and are out working in the “garden” as the locals call it.
St. Bede Mushroom and Vegetable Growers’ Association is an organization in Pactil for farmers.
With a member count of 42, SBMVGA is composed of mostly women. The organization handles the livelihood programs of the community: potato chip making and mushroom cultivation.
The organization, started attending trainings with mixed opinions and emotions. Some of them were curious, others were thinking if adaptation would be feasible for their community. As Sitio Pactil is a farming-based community, they are accustomed to the farming lifestyle, which largely contributed to their excitement of learning something new.
Mushroom livelihood has brought joy to their community. It takes a lot of time and strength, but to the community, everything is worth it when mushroom starts to sprout from the fruiting bags. When asked which was harder between farming crops and mushroom cultivation, they choose neither. Both are difficult in their own ways, but the organization prefers to work with mushroom all because of the comfortability of working on a small, covered space. Farming takes up the whole day, with most of them bringing food in the garden to maximize their time.
In addition to this, the heat of the sun — even though Sitio Pactil is located in Sagada — and in some cases, strong winds or even a storm, and not to mention the long hours in the same position while enduring different weather conditions. On the contrary, mushroom cultivation process happens in one room, and considering the working conditions of farming, it can be said that it is comfortable. Everything takes place under the shade of the roof. No extreme conditions and the opportunity to eat on time inside their homes, with their families. Members of SBMVGA also see mushroom production as an enjoyable bonding activity, especially when done with many others.
Specifically the harvesting stage, the residents see it as a way to bond with others and something to do to keep them busy. They also found the process exciting, especially when a new batch of fruiting bags are hanged, and mushrooms sprouts are all over the bags. On the chance that SBMVGA produces more mushroom than expected, orders from neighboring cities are also entertained. SBMVGA also delivers to nearby hotels and restaurants who incorporate mushrooms to their food.
To see their labor pay off and succeed, is a gratifying and satisfying experience for the community of Sitio Pactil. Overall, the mushroom production has become a significant and impactful part of Sitio Pactil, which can be said from the five years they have kept the business growing despite the small market they are able to serve.
Mushroom has become as one of the primary food in Pactil. As it is easy to prepare, and is able to be used in numerous simple dishes, residents often visit the mushroom cell to purchase some. Residents are also the patrons of the mushroom production in Pactil, placing orders from time to time, enjoying their community’s own hard work.
As a farming-based community that produces highland crops which are harvested after months of working, mushroom production kept the finances steady. Mushroom production yields inestimable amount of mushroom per year. With each fruiting bag lasting for 8-10 months, mushroom sprouts sporadically and by the hour. Sales from harvested mushroom — which costs 160 pesos per kilo, are divided among the members of the organization for extra income. Because of its incalculable and varying number of yield, an annual profit cannot be estimated especially with the expenses int he organization and all. But according to the members of the organization, sales from the mushroom produce can be considered a good source of income. Growing by the hour with minimal to no supervision or maintenance, mushroom production has certainly helped Sitio Pactil in their finances.
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