Learning by Doing @ MBRLC
The Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC), formerly known as Mt. Carmel, is located at Bansalan, Davao del Sur. It is owned by the Southern Baptist Convention, a Christian denomination which originates in the United States. It functions as a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of sustainable development in the Philippines.
The MBRLC promotes organic farming technology for the benefit of rural Filipinos, provides education and training to farmers, and foster Christian faith while introducing sustainable farming techniques to the upland regions of the Philippines. They introduce organic farming technology helping farmers manage their farm for low-cost, timely and optimum production.
The MBRLC was first to introduce several sustainable farming techniques, including Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT). This technology addresses the problem of erosion by combining soil conservation with food production. Part of the design is Food Always In The Home (FAITH) gardening which uses series of raised garden beds in a 100 square meter plot of land to provide a family of six with vegetables throughout the year.
Within its nineteen-hectare demonstration site in Davao del Sur, the MBRLC provides training in community development, sustainable agriculture, rural healthcare, and Christian values. The Center’s Baptist Outside Of School Training (BOOST) program aims to provide young people living in rural areas with the values and skills needed to lead a productive and fulfilling life. At present, more than 120 MBRLC staff members work at the demonstration site and in local villages. The Center receives approximately 20,000 visitors, including 2,000 trainees per year. In addition to several satellite projects throughout Mindanao, MBRLC has also established ties with other international organizations working on sustainable development projects throughout Asia.
The MBRLC was founded in 1971 by Harold Ray Watson, who was living with his family at the training center in Kinuskusan, Bansalan, in the southern Philippines. With money from the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in the USA and a private American donor, Watson purchased ten hectares of underdeveloped and degraded land to serve as a demonstration site for small farmers. When Dr. Warlito Laquihon joined the staff as Associate Director in 1977, he proposed Research, Extension, Development, Education, Evangelism, and Mission (REDEEM) as the future direction of the MBRLC. In the late 1970s, the MBRLC launched many programs, including an agricultural extension program, Plan for Extension, Development, And Leadership (PEDAL), and the first of many BOOST programs. In 1978 Watson, Laquihon, and Rodrigo Calixtro developed the SALT technique and began to offer formal SALT training at the Center in 1980. By the mid- 1980s the SALT training was attracting more than 1,000 people a year. Since then, the MBRLC has added nine more hectares to its demonstration site in Bansalan, initiated several satellite projects throughout the southern Philippines, increased its staff, expanded its training programs, and established connections with international organizations working for sustainable development in other Asian countries.
Their mission is to help all people, especially upland farmers in the southern Philippines, experience abundant life as promised by Jesus Christ. (Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies)