MANILA -- Great opportunities await farmer beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac City as the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) unveiled various options each of them could avail. One option is the tested sugar block farming concept.
So far, the DAR has already installed some 5,990 farmer beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita or 96.43 percent of 6,212 qualified beneficiaries.
DAR Undersecretary for Support Services Rosalina Bistoyong said the sugar block farming program works best for the interest of the farmers as it envisions to get them work together for the greater good of all, while maintaining individual ownership of their newly acquired farm lots, each covering 6,600 square meters.
Bistoyong said each sugar cane block farm consists of 30-60 hectares of sugar land to be managed as one block, such that activities in the small individual farms are aligned and implemented according to the plans of the whole block.
DAR Secretary Gil de los Reyes said the block farming program can enhance the farmers’ social capital, which is vital in gaining greater bargaining power in various business dealings, be they for financial transactions with banks or for farm inputs/outputs trading business, since they are dealing as an organization rather than as individuals.
De los Reyes said a strongly organized and credible farmers’ organization has greater chances of transacting business with banking institutions, which prefer to deal with a farmers’ organization rather than with individual farmers since they have only a set of officers representing the whole association to deal with.
He noted that a farmers’ organization also enjoys greater bargaining power when dealing with traders, either for farm inputs or outputs.
"When buying farm inputs, a farmers’ organization can ask big discounts compared to them dealing separately for their individual needs. The same thing can be said when selling their farm outputs as a group. They can command better price because they are capable of meeting the volume requirement of a trading firm," the DAR chief said.
The block farming program, a concept jointly developed by the DAR, the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), is said to increase sugar production from 99 to 147 bags of sugar per hectare.
Besides enhancing farm productivity, Bistoyong said the farming program also offers a host of other support services, with DAR providing farm implements, the DA constructing or rehabilitating irrigation facilities and farm-to-mill road, while the SRA extending technical assistance to farmers’ organization to enhance productivity.
Bistoyong said that farmer beneficiaries, who prefer to work individually, could avail themselves of other technical assistance for diversified cropping, vegetable production, and cattle-raising in coordination with the National Dairy Authority.