The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) recently forged an agreement with the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to improve the income of agrarian reform beneficiaries in 99 sugarcane block farms.
DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said “the sugarcane block farming project involves the consolidation of awarded lands to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) with three hectares or less to be integrated into 30 to 50 hectares through different schemes such as partnership, joint venture, and sharing while preserving individual ownership.”
Under the contract, the DAR will contribute P424.6 million while the SRA will give P30 million to support the implementation of project activities in the 99 sugarcane block farms.
“These funds will be used for the provision of farm equipment, farmers’ trainings, construction of farm-to-mill roads and establishment of livelihood activities,” said De los Reyes.
“Based on our experience, block farming doubles farmers’ yield and lowers their farming costs,” said SRA Administrator Ma. Regina Bautista-Martin.
Martin said the project was first pilot-tested in 19 sugarcane block farms in Luzon and Visayas in 2012. “Applying our program to these sugar plantations led to an average of 29 percent increase in productivity,” said Martin.
“These pilot farms harvested an average of 65.29 tons of cane per hectare during crop year 2013-2014, up from the previous average yield of 50.78 tons per hectare upon the program’s implementation in 2012,” stressed Martin.
The sugarcane block farm project will be implemented over a three-year period starting this June and will cover 99 sugarcane block farms in Cagayan, Isabela, Tarlac, Pampanga, Batangas, Albay, Camarines Sur, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Cebu, Leyte, Bukidnon, Davao del Sur and North Cotabato.
Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes (seated, 2nd from right) together with Sugar Regulatory Administrator (SRA) Ma. Regina Bautista-Martin and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala (seated, 3rd and 4th from right) sign the memorandum of understanding (MOU), which seeks to increase the income of agrarian reform beneficiaries engaged in sugarcane farming. Looking on is DAR Undersecretary for Foreign Assisted Projects Herman Ongkiko (extreme right).