Tapaseros or sugarcane cutters are in demand in Bukidnon during milling season which runs from November to May or June the following year. It is a backbreaking job which involves cutting, carrying and loading the canes into a hauling truck.
In the past, tapaseros, complained of the measly pay they get for their job. However, with the sugar quedan price reaching an all-time high at the start of the current milling season, the tapaseros were able to get their much needed wage increase.
But it is also the turn of many sugarcane planters to complain. There is a shortage of tapaseros thus planters "import" workers from as far as Negros Occidental. There are also many cases where the tapaseros made cash advances and then disappeared, leaving helpless planters no choice but absorb the loss and look for another group to harvest their canes.
Due to these problems, plenty of standing canes are still not harvested all around Bukidnon. This situation leaves many planters in dilemma as the current milling season is about to end. The start of the rainy days also hamper the hauling of canes especially in areas with no proper road access.
Hopefully these problems would be tackled by the different planters associations and the two milling companies in Bukidnon, BUSCO and Crystal. A "win-win" solution that is equally beneficial for both the planters and the tapaseros is needed to help boost the sugarcane industry in Bukidnon.
(Photos taken in Old Nongnongan, Don Carlos, Bukidnon)