AGRARIAN Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes urged various groups of agrarian reform beneficiaries inside the Hacienda Luisita to strengthen their organizations, saying that a strong farmers’ organization is the key to spurring rural development.
De los Reyes said that a cohesive farmers’ organization serves as magnet for greater government assistance. The lack of it, however, would make any assistance extended to them unproductive.
He likened the various government agencies to “midwives” who help “mothers,” representing farmers’ organizations, deliver “children,” in this case, the goods that they produce.
“Sooner or later, the medical staff, from the doctors to midwives down to the nurses, will go to attend to others, but not after ensuring that the ‘mothers’ are healthy enough to fend for themselves and direct their own future,” De los Reyes said in a speech during the Farmers Field School graduation rites at the Barangay Mapalacsiao Hall inside the Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac City.
Thirty-four farmer-beneficiaries, nine of them women, received their certificate of completion of the six-month course on proper corn farming, which started in November last year.
The DAR chief said the farmers’ organizations hold the key to rural development for they are the ones doing the harnessing of agricultural lands, with the government providing only the needed technical assistance and equipment to get them the desired result – increased productivity.
He admitted that it is not easy to organize a group of individuals with different personalities, “but once you, farmer-beneficiaries, manage to run your affairs as an organization on your own you are as good as the management that were used to, from which you used to take orders. This time, you are the ones taking in charge.”
De los Reyes said there are many economic benefits to gain when farmers organize themselves into a cohesive organization. For one, he explained, financing institutions normally prefer to deal with an organization because they will be talking only to a handful of farmers’ representatives rather than to individual farmer.
“It’s also advantageous when dealing to traders as an organization as prices of farm inputs are much lower when bought by bulk, while farm outputs command higher prices,” he stressed.