DIPOLOG CITY — Through the years the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has been consistent in fulfilling its mandate of promoting agricultural development and growth by assisting the farmer organizations to increase productivity and ensure food security.
This assistance includes crop production training as well provision of agricultural inputs, machineries/equipment including post-harvest facilities.
As can be gleaned from the agency’s logo, DAR is committed toward sustainable development in the country. The sun in its logo, which radiates its light into the field of green divided into 12 segments, represents the original 12 regions covered by the program; the green color stands for fertility and productivity while the yellow color represents hope and a golden harvest of agrarian reform beneficiaries who are the recipients of the services provided by the agency via CARP. All this implies that economic growth and sound rural development can be achieved through agrarian reform.
Agrarian Reform Communities Project (ARCP) 2
Accordingly, the lack of equitable access to the means of production, including land, capital, technology, information and markets, lead to poverty of the large number of rural popiulation in the country.
DAR took the initiative of conceptualizing and putting into action the Agrarian Reform Communities Project (ARCP) 2 assisted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB)/OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID).
This project aims to reduce poverty and thus improve the socio-economic status of the identified communities in selected ARCs.
It is expected to improve access to livelihood assets by the rural poor including the landless farm workers and to develop sustainable livelihood, agribusinesses and long lasting improvements in the wellbeing of the poor and marginalized groups in the target communities.
In Zamboanga del Norte, ARCP 2 has greatly helped the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) and other farmers in increasing their income while improving their quality of life in a sustainable manner.
Clemento C. Guio, a farmer from Dipolog City and member of the Dipolog-Polanco Irrigators Association (DPIA) expressed his appreciation to the assistance extended by the government particularly that of the DAR in partnership with the city government of Dipolog and the second district congressional office of Representative Rosendo Labadlabad.
“DAR has helped us to have efficient supply of irrigation water to improve our production. We are very fortunate that we are one of the recipients of this project,” Guio said.
Meanwhile, Engr. Kerr Porlas, officer in-charge of the City Agriculturist’s Office, disclosed that the DAR and the city government of Dipolog jointly funded the repair and construction of the Dipolog Communal Irrigation System (DCIS), each contributing 50 percent of the project cost.
Guio said that before the implementation of ARCP 2 project, they really had a problem in the supply of irrigation water for the past 10 years.
“There’s only little supply of water before the repair of the irrigation system because we were only using earth canal and the water dam at that time was not operational. We were always praying for rain during that time,” he recalled.
After the repair and construction of the irrigation system, the farmers can now plant on time and in synchronization with other farmers to prevent pest and diseases.
With the completion of the repair and construction of the irrigation system, Guio said, his produce has improved and he is now able to pay his debts, acquire a service vehicle, solar dryer, rice mill and some savings in the bank.
Also, in an interview, Engr. Porlas said: “It is our mission to help improve farming, food security and increase economic growth, as it is the vision of the city government, that for every infra project, there’s always economic activity.”
System of Rice Intensification (SRI)
In line with the ARCP 2 project, the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) has been introduced to the farmers. SRI is a method of planting and growing rice that reduces costs but increases yields without using agro-chemicals. It also aims to strengthen the farmers’ knowledge, capacity and skills through technical information to improve their rice cultivation methods.
In an interview with Teofilo R. Burbano, a farmer and at the same time technician-painter from Dipolog City, said, “the SRI is a great help because it will help the farmers increase their crop production.”
“We accepted this new technology because this is chemical-free and requires lesser production costs,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, DAR promised to provide farmers with mechanical equipment under ARCP 2 if the SRI would be successful in the province.
Partnership against Hunger and Poverty (PAHP)
PAHP is a convergence of efforts of DSWD, DAR and DA creating greater synergy in engaging the poor households and working closely with the rural communities to provide essential social and economic services toward eliminating hunger and alleviating poverty.
In Dipolog City, a marketing agreement was entered into between the Day Care Service Parents Group (DCSPG), Pantawid Parent Leaders Organization (PPLO) and the Agrarian Reform Community Organization (ARC) Organization.
DAR continues extending technical assistance to ARCs and ARBOs that were engaged in the provision of food items required by DSWD for the feeding program in the Day Care Centers.
“I know that this program will be successful because of lesser cost but greater crop yield while providing healthy vegetables to consumers,” Rey Abequibel, president of Dipolog Organic Vegetable Grower Federation, said in an interview.
He lauded the dedication and commitment of DAR in improving the lives of farmers toward sustainable development in communities.
“Without the assistance of DAR, we would have lesser crop yield,” he said.
On the other hand, Engr. Porlas emphasized that the freshness of vegetables will be assured, saying that the city government of Dipolog is providing farmers with free organic fertilizers, free transportation of their vegetables to the market and have them display their products at the city hall and city central market.
“What we have to do is to connect the dots, provide support and market to cut the middleman. The farmers had already signed an agreement with the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) to supply Day Care Centers with 147 kg. of vegetables per week.” Engr. Porlas added.
“What we need is expansion. It shall be institutionalized from DepEd, hotels down to the restaurants to buy directly from farmers,” he suggested. — FPG/MAA/PIA-Zamboanga del Norte