DAR joins fight against hunger and poverty; awards land titles and credit assistance to 768 farmers

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Z WEB NATL 20151023 R06 NEGOCC photo 1BACOLOD CITY—The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) distributed certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) and provided credit assistance and turned over mechanized farm machines to farmer-beneficiaries during the “National Week for Overcoming Extreme Poverty” celebration in Negros Occidental.

DAR Regional Director Stephen Leonidas said the badly needed credit assistance worth P16 million will be available to 547 farmers belonging to the seven recipient cooperatives.

“The provision of credit lines is a tripartite program of the DAR, Department of Agriculture (DA) and LBP under the Agricultural Production Credit Program (APCP),” explained Leonidas.

“The program is designed primarily to provide loans to farmer-beneficiaries and their households through cooperatives or agrarian reform beneficiaries’ organizations (ARBOs) and other farmers’ organizations to support their individual or communal crop production, agri-enterprise and other livelihood projects,” Leonidas added.

The credit grant recipients are farmers belonging to seven ARBOs namely: Haganay AR Cooperative, Hacienda Bongco farmers Assn., Unson-Gil Farms & Agricultural Corp., Aliwanay Agrarian Reform Cooperative, De Fuego I Farmers Assn., Hacienda Caridad III FW Assn., and San Jose #2 FW Assn.

“The provision of credit assistance to ARBs is a program of DAR that seeks to reduce poverty in agrarian reform areas,” Leonidas said
Z WEB NATL 20151023 R06 NEGOCC photo 2The DAR also turned over 43 units of various farm machineries to 27 cooperatives to increase the sugarcane production of agrarian reform beneficiaries here. The machineries delivered include 13 heavy tractors, 18 shredders and 12 rice threshers worth P72 million to 27 ARBOs in Negros Occidental.

“These farm machineries will service more than 3,000 farmer beneficiaries here. And because the machines are mechanized, it will make farming easier and faster for them. It will also greatly improve their yield and increase their income,” Leonidas said.

Following the theme “National Week for Overcoming Extreme Poverty,” DAR Undersecretary for Foreign Assisted and Special Projects Herman Ongkiko explained to the farmers the department’s various programs in the implementation of the Accelerated and Sustainable Anti-Poverty (ASAP) program of the government.

“The ASAP program is an inter-agency effort that seeks to reduce poverty by creating sustainable employment and income-generating opportunities for the poor,” explains Ongkiko.

“Here in Negros Occidental, the DAR is currently implementing sugarcane block farming project. It involves the consolidation of awarded lands to 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,” said Ongkiko.
Z WEB NATL 20151023 R06 NEGOCC photo 3In collaboration with other government agencies, the DAR has lined up agriculture support services like farm-to-sugar mill roads, credit assistance and provision of farm implements for sugarcane farmers.

“To help sustain employment, we are partnering with the local government units and the Technical Education and Skills Development (TESDA) for skills training such as carpentry, cooking, welding, dress-making, etc. These skills trainings are for the sons and daughters of our farmer-beneficiaries who needed skills to obtain jobs,” added Ongkiko.

“With ASAP, the government aims to bring down poverty incidence to 18 to 20 percent in 2016 by creating income opportunities for the poor and enhancing their employability,” said Ongkiko.

The celebration culminated with the awarding of CLOAs to 768 farmer-beneficiaries. Eighteen (18) private landholdings covering 396.4766 hectares of agricultural lands are located in Escalante and Manapla.

“The DAR’s program does not end in awarding the land, it also provides necessary support services to boost the farmers’ productivity and income,” said Ongkiko.

The “National Week for Overcoming Extreme Poverty” was celebrated on October 17-23 in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. (Pinky Roque)

Photo 1: Undersecretary for Foreign Assisted and Special Projects Herman Ongkiko hands over a CLOA to a farmer-beneficiary. He was assisted by Negros Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr., Regional Director Stephen Leonidas and Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Teresita Mabunay.

Photo 2: Some of the farm tractors distributed by DAR to 27 cooperatives.

Photo 3: Undersecretary Herman Ongkiko shakes the hand of a chairman of Hacienda Caridad III Farm Workers Association while handing over a ceremonial check worth P1.2 million.