UMINGAN, Pangasinan, May 25 (PIA) – A partnership program between the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has improved the livelihoods of farming households in this town by engaging them in agro-enterprise development.
Under DAR’s “Linking Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries to Corporate Supply Chains,” the project aims to assist agrarian reform beneficiaries and smallholder farmers to access to greater value in the market chain through collective production and marketing of their products and strengthening of business support services.
Gerardo Caniete, senior agrarian reform program technologist, said one of the project objectives is to link the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) in marketing their produce to institutional buyers and centers.
“The farmers will collectively market their produce to appropriate markets and that they will be able to add value to their products,” said Caniete.
Since the municipality of Umingan was considered as the project site, the DAR in Pangasinan together with the CRS implementers had a dialogue with officials of the local government of Umingan.
He said the local government of Umingan requested that DAR and CRS to consider squash for the project, being the “One Town One Product” (OTOP) in the area.
In addition, the areas planted with squash are covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
“When the clusters were formed, DAR and CRS facilitated their access to credit institutions; hence they were linked to the Gulf Bank and GM Bank, institutions engaged in microfinance services,” he added.
Caniete said the farmers in Luna Este and Luna Weste villages who are members of the Umingan Farmers Agrarian Reform Cooperative (UFARCO) were able to access individual loans which were used for their squash production.
At present, they are marketing their produce to Dizon Farm and to other consolidators. (VHS/AMM/PIA-1, Pangasinan)