Squash farmers in two far-flung barangay’s in Umingan, Pangasinan province are looking forward to greater economic opportunities after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) linked them up to Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to serve as their market arm.
Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Maria Ana B. Francisco said that 166 members of Umingan Farmers Agrarian Reform Cooperative (UFARCO) in Barangay Luna Este and Luna Weste enlisted themselves into the DAR-CRS Partnership Project, dubbed as “Linking Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries to Corporate Supply Chains.”
The partnership has a primary goal of improving the livelihoods of the farming households through agro-enterprise engagements, Francisco said.
Francisco said the objective of the project is to link the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in marketing their produce to institutional buyers and centers. At present, they are marketing their produce to Dizon Farm and to other consolidators, Francisco said.
Francisco said the DAR also helps the two agrarian reform communities (ARCs) gain access to credit through the same DAR-CRS partnership. She said they were clustered to facilitate their access to credit institutions engaged in microfinance services such as Gulf Bank and GM Bank. The loans applied for would be used for their squash production.
Meanwhile, Umingan Mayor Eldred P. Tumbocon requested DAR and CRS to consider squash for the project, being its “One Town, One Product” (OTOP). In addition, the areas planted with squash are covered under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
UFARCO member Melecio E. Echavaria said that for 100 cavans of squash he harvested per year, he earned P100,000.
“What I earned from my harvest is more than enough to give my family a better living”, he said.