Farmers trains for product development and good manufacturing practices in Bohol

news national 1 pix 1 july 20 2017Two cooperatives in Bohol were recently trained for product development and current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) to make their product marketable and competitive.

The training was conducted by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in partnership with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to ensure comprehensive and coordinated support service delivery to the agrarian program beneficiaries.

These collaborative trainings guarantees integrated agri-enterprise development addressing input supply, production, processing, marketing and distribution as critical chains that are inextricably linked with each other.

Both agencies provided training materials and equipment during the said trainings where members of the Kaliwat ni Dagohoy Multi-purpose Cooperative (KDMPC) in Magtangtang, Danao, Bohol were able to enhance their skills   on product development to make it more viable and marketable.

Cansumbol Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Bilar, Bohol on the other hand, was trained on good manufacturing practices (GMP) for them to be able produce quality, safe and affordable products that are competitive and profitable.

Agrarian Reform Program Officer I and the Marketing Specialist of DAR Bohol Doris J. Isabel Racho said that there were ten cooperative officials attended with Ma. Theresa Tay and Yoradyl Israel from DTI. Others who assisted the training include Takashi Kato, a DAR-based Japanese Volunteer, Development Facilitators Gil Torero and Expedita Anunciado. (Merly D. Bantugan)

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33 farm owners graduate from farm business school training

news national 1 pix 1 july 19 2017A total of 33 farmers from Panacio, Antonino, Situbo and Tuburan Agrarian Reform Community (PANCITU ARC) recently graduated from the Farm Business School (FBS) training conducted in Sergio Osmena, Zamboanga del Norte.

Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer II Mohamamd Dassan Adju  said that the FBS is funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN) and is implemented by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in partnership with the Department of Agriculture through the Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI) and the Local Government Unit (LGU).

Adju said  that the six-month long training from October last year to July this year  aims to enhanced the entrepreneurial and marketing skills of the farmer-beneficiaries to run profitable agribusiness ventures by themselves.

“You learn by doing”, he said during the graduation rites.

DAR Chief Agrarian Reform Program Officer Engr Alfonso Tan said that the objective of the FBS is to teach the graduates different farming methods, create market linkages and increase their capability in farm business management to boost their farm income.

PARO I Rizzel B. Villanueva who was also present during the ceremony said that though the DAR provide support to achieve sustainability for this project, the agrarian reform beneficiary plays a significant role for its success. Villanueva was also joined by DA representative Erlinda Laranjo, Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer Elbert Alonzo, FBS Point Person Lorna Pandan and other DAR field implementors.

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Marsman, farmers at a standoff

news national 1 pix 1 july 19 2017TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte (July 18, 2017)—The second round of talks conducted by the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council Executive Committee (PARC Excom) between the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) and banana business giant Marsman Estate Plantation Inc. (MEPI) has ended in a standoff as the latter refuses to revoke the agri-business venture agreements (AVAs) the farmers have entered with them.

MEPI President Antero Sison, Jr. said he is against the revocation of the AVA because more than 1,000 employees will be affected by the revocation.

“As businessmen, we should honor the signed agreement. If the PARC insists on it, we are ready to file a case to the Supreme Court,” Sison said.

AVAs are contracts entered into by an ARB or group of ARBs, on one hand, and an investor, on the other, which involve the possession of the land; distribution of the produce of the land, and commitment of the owners to produce certain crops.

The lease AVA was approved for revocation by the PARC on September 12, 2016 due to complaints by the Sto. Tomas Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative (Starbenco) and the Sto. Tomas Individual Farming Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (Sifarbco) for gross violations of several provisions of the contract of lease.

 The Starbenco and Sifarbco farmers said they were terminated from their work 10 years ago and were not given separation pay. The farmers said they were not allowed to enter the plantation. Their landholdings are being cultivated by hired laborers who are provided by three employment agencies hired by MEPI.

Consultation with cooperatives and MEPI

DAR Secretary and PARC Excom Chairman Rafael Mariano said the PARC gave farmers/cooperatives their right to be heard.  

At the consultation, the Sifarbco group is firm in their position on the revocation of their lease AVA contract. They want to enter into a growership arrangement with other corporations. They also asked the DAR to be installed into their awarded national 1 pix 2 july 19 2017

“The Starbenco group, at present is not the ones cultivating their lands. They also wish to take possession of, be installed in and cultivate individually their respective landholdings. Its members expressed capability to cultivate and manage their farms and market their produce,” Mariano said.

He said the Starbenco group prefers individual farming and to enter into a growership arrangement with other corporations and not with MEPI.

“It is clear that that both Starbenco and Sifarbco want their AVA to be revoked,” said Mariano.

Mariano said the PARC will consolidate the result of the consultation with farmers and MEPi and will present the report at the next PARC meeting with President Duterte.

“The meeting is tentatively scheduled on August 10 at Malacanang. We will present this and propose possible solutions that would be beneficial to all parties involved,” said Mariano.

Win-win solution with Damarb-MPC

DAR Secretary and PARC Excom Chairman Rafael Mariano said at the first consultation with the Davao Marsman Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development Cooperative (DAMARB-MPC) on March 25, the Damarb-MPC wanted a “win-win” solution where they shall continue their relationship with MEPI under a separate agreement.

news national 1 pix 3 july 19 2017Mariano said the Damarb-MPC and the MEPI has arrived at an agreement guaranteeing ARBs a signing bonus and retroactive and advance rental payments for each ARB-signatory amounting to P105,000 as well as a regular monthly income for each of them.

MEPI President Antero Sison, Jr., in a June 21 letter addressed to President Rodrigo R. Duterte, said majority of the ARBs working in the firm’s plantation have signed the amended agreement.

The AVA ensures that more than 1,800 employees of the banana farm will retain their jobs, benefiting some 8,000 dependents.

The new deal includes payment for land rental of P50,000 per hectare per annum plus an increase of P10,000 every five years, which the company said is more than twice the average rate for the industry.

Photo 1:  Sec. Mariano welcoming the farmers and MEPI officials at the 2nd consultation with the farmers at Molave Hotel in Tagum, Davao del Norte.

Photo 2: Farmers of Starbenco and Sifarbco picketing at the gate of the hotel.

Photo 3: Sec. Mariano with DA Sec. Emmanuel Pinol and Sec. of Finance and PARC member Carlos Dominguez in a huddle discussing the issues of the AVAs of Starbenco and Sifarbco. Looking on: DAR Assistant Secretary for Mindanao Affairs John Maruhom.

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DAR joins ‘Kilos SAMBAYANAN’

news national 1 pix 1 july 16 2017The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) joins the government’s initiatives in alleviating poverty through the National Anti-Poverty Commission’s (NAPC) launching of the “Kilos SAMBAYANAN (Kilos para sa Sampung Batayang Pangangailangan.”

DAR Secretary Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano said the “Kilos Sambayanan” is a government initiative which calls to address the ‘10 Basic Needs’ of the poor (Sampung Batayang Pangangailangan) which includes food and land reform, water, shelter, health, education, work, social protection, healthy environment, peace, and participation.

“Agrarian reform is not just distributing lands to landless farmers. The DAR has projects and programs that help the rural poor, specifically the farmers in increasing their income and improving their living conditions,” said DAR Secretary Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ national 1 pix 2 july 16 2017

The “Kilos SAMBAYANAN” seeks to address poverty problems and its many dimensions by informing the public poor of the government’s anti-poverty programs. The event tackles issues and concerns on food, land and housing.

Mariano said under the department’s support services office, farmers’ organizations and agrarian reform communities were provided with modern farm machines like threshers and heavy tractors and infrastructure projects such as bridges, farm-to-market roads, post-harvest facilities and communal irrigation systems.

“The DAR also helps in accessing credit lines and conducts various farmers’ training on modern farming and basic business principles to help them become a well-rounded farmer-businessmen,” added Mariano.

news national 1 pix 3 july 16 2017 NAPC lead convenor Liza Maza have enjoined the DAR, the Departments of Agriculture and Environment (DA, DENR), the Phil. Coconut Authority (PCA), the Phil. Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) to implement to the fullest each agency’s projects, programs and services to help uplift the living condition of the poor.

“This direct communication with the poor is an effective way of imparting to them thegovernment’s programs and services. This way, we would also hear directly from them what they want and expect from us,” said Maza. 

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DAR inaugurates P21.6-M farm-to-market road a farming village considers as key for its survival

news national 1 pix 1 july 4 2017AN agrarian reform community of 5,332 people heaved a big sigh of relief after a five-kilometer farm-to-market road, which they described as “very crucial for their survival,” was finally opened to traffic by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) last Monday in San Andres town, Catanduanes.

DAR Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano inaugurated the P21.632-million road in Barangay San Isidro to the big applause of the local residents, who swarmed the former chair of the Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP) upon his arrival for the ceremonial ribbon-cutting to show their deep admiration to him for looking after their welfare.

The road is the last under the joint program of the DAR and the Japan-sponsored Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Project (ARISP), which is on its third phase of implementation. It is a combination of half concrete, normally covering steep portions of the road, and half gravel and sand.

Touched by the heartwarming response of the local residents belonging to the Burabod Agrarian Reform Community (ARC), Mariano said the second phase of the road project worth P18 million is coming in the near future to ensure the safety of commuters passing to and fro the steep Mayngaway-Calomagon-San Isidro farm-to-market road that is cascading through the Mount Ayemit.

Burabod is an expanded ARC of six barangays, from the original two barangays of Bislig and Cabcab, the nearest to the town proper. Barangay San Isidro is the farthest, being 20 kilometers away.

The Barangay San Isidro is actually sitting at the footsteps of the mountain ranges so that a heavy downpour is enough to cut them off from the town proper as the level of water in the river quickly rises.

Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organization (ARBO) chairman Oscar Tan said the road means so much to him and to his constituents as it serves as their alternative route to the town proper since their only “access road” is actually the river bed of the Mayngaway River, which dries up during summer and turns into a roaring tide of rainwater that is rushing down from the mountain ranges during rainy national 1 pix 2 july 4 2017

“The completion of the road just came at the right time since the rainy season is already on,” Tan said even as he recalled the hardships that they had gone through whenever there was a heavy downpour.

“We could not venture out of our homes because the surging river went up as high as nearly two meters and the current was too strong so that it was practically suicidal to try crossing it,” he said, adding that it takes at least a week before the river subsides to the level a man can handle.

Tan said the road also helps reduce the mortality rate in their barangay as they could bring their ailing community members with ease, much unlike before when they manually carried their sick on a cradle or on a sled pulled by a carabao as their only access road then was impassable for tricycles and  any four-wheel vehicles.

He added that it helps travelling easier and affordable. It also enables residents, especially students to enjoy San Andres Mayor Peter Cua’s pet project dubbed as: “Pasada Escuela,” a free-ride to and fro the barangay and poblacion/school for students and residents alike.

news national 1 pix 3 july 4 2017Farmers, on the other hand, are enjoying greater economic opportunities as they can market their farm products at fair price and purchase farm inputs at lower price, Tan said.

“Before, we, including our school children, used to trek for more than an hour to go to school or town proper. On the other hand, farmers’ morale was low because we could only earn too little due to high cost of transportation, limited capacity of carabao sled and long hours of hauling, normally taking at least two hauling for every transaction,” Tan explained.

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