I hope my research will help farmers back home

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MAGANDA BALITANG

“I hope that my research will help farmers back home.”

My dream is to use the knowledge and skills I gain in my New Zealand education to help farmers in the Philippines to be self-sustaining.

Beth’s PhD research is tackling one of her country’s big challenges.

By Maribeth Jadina, PhD Student from the Philippines

CHRISTCHURCH – My research focuses on mapping the impacts of land parcelization in developing countries like the Philippines. Land parcelization is subdividing agricultural land and returning it to the people who farm the land. I’m particularly interested in the impact this has on the landscape, the people in the society and its relationship to extreme weather conditions.

Disaster resilience is important, because the Philippines is a disaster-prone area, but farmers are not prepared to face the challenges that come from disaster.

In 2013 Typhoon Haiyan hit Leyte, where I’m from, and around six thousand people were killed. Land titles and landmarks were destroyed and farmers were vulnerable to land-grabbing. The farmers lost everything and they are still recovering from that typhoon.

My big dream one day is to work in the agricultural sector and see it improve and see farmers empowered.

Just like in New Zealand, agriculture is one of the main industries in my country. Here in New Zealand I have noticed that farmers are some of the richest people. They have good status. But in my country they are the poorest and they don’t get the recognition or the support that they need.

Coming to New Zealand

By coming here to New Zealand I am able to prepare myself for the career that I want in the future.

When I started planning to study abroad, I saw that all the universities in New Zealand were top calibre. Then I started looking for a university where I could focus on land and agriculture. I found Lincoln.

Coming to a new place with a different culture is very interesting. My parents were excited when they found out that I would be coming here, because it’ll be a new journey for me.

I was really scared of living alone and far from my family. In the past I had been away from home for work, on a different island in the Philippines, but I always knew that I could go back home easily. But here it’s quite far.

When I first arrived in New Zealand,it was a shock for me. The weather here is very different from the Philippines. I left in the peak of summer when it was 32 to 40 degrees. When I arrived here it was zero to negative two and I got sick the next day. I had a difficult time adjusting to the new environment. But the people were very nice. The university provided me with the support that I needed, checking on me to see if I was doing well with my studies.

Learning in New Zealand

Learning in New Zealand is interesting for me. Back home we see supervisors as well, like supervisors. There is always a wall. But here it’s very open. I see my supervisors as more like colleagues.

I feel as if I’ve grown and changed as an individual and as a researcher here, because I need to do everything independently and I have to manage my own time. I think that it will set me up well for my career.

I want to help my country to develop its own technologies and policies fit for the farmers and the people. For many years now the Philippines has been adopting western-style technologies and policies. But that’s not why I’m studying in New Zealand. I want my research to help provide a home-grown solution – one that represents the people and is a reflection of the society that we have. My dream is to use the knowledge and skills that I gain in my New Zealand education to help farmers in the Philippines to be self-sustaining.

I’m excited to be learning new things in New Zealand and gaining knowledge that I can take back home.

Beth is studying her PhD at Lincoln University in Christchurch. She spent the first year of her degree learning from her supervisors in New Zealand and is now conducting field research in the Philippines. Her dream is for her research to impact policies to improve the agricultural sector in the Philippines.