As part of its steadfast advocacy to improve the lives of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs), the Department of Agrarian Reform Masbate Provincial Office, through the efforts of its Program Beneficiaries Development Division (PBDD), initiated a pilot project aimed at developing a model farm to promote the potential of Sugar Industry, particularly the production of “moscovado sugar” in the province. Integral part of the project is the establishment of a farming system that utilizes crop waste products that are mixed with molasses (a by-product of sugarcane processing) as cattle feeds.
The project was conceptualized sometime in November of 2013 when a group of PBDD personnel, headed by PARPO I Herald Tambal, went on a learning expedition to Bacolod, Negros Occidental to have a firsthand look on its sugar industry and sugarcane hacienda operations. The highlight of their trip was their visit to the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) in La Carlotta City wherein they were granted seeds and sugarcane plantlets to be planted in the model farm.
At present, the sugarcane farm project is already being implemented. The hub or growth centers are located in Lantangan, Mandaon and Curvada, Cataingan, 2nd and 3rd congressional districts respectively.
The model farm in Lantangan is a partnership project between DAR-Masbate, Abelita Ranch and Lantangan People’s Organization (LAPO). There is also an existing “paiwi” from Abelita Ranch numbering to more than 100 cattle heads which started in 2007. LAPO also owns 35 heads of cattle distributed to its members. In this farm, LAPO, an Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organization (ARBO), works hand-in-hand with DAR-Masbate and the cattle raisers in developing the model sugarcane and corn plantation.
Through DAR’s Farmers Field School, the partner ARBs/Farmers and cattle raisers are supplied with knowledge and technical skills on the process of producing and stockpiling through silage cattle feeds out of crop wastes gathered after the harvest season and organic fertilizers from cattle manure. At present, the Department of Agriculture – Regional Field Units (DA-RFUs) has granted LAPO a shredder machine for organic farming.
On the other hand, the project in Curvada, Cataingan is a tie-up between DAR-Masbate and QUENSCUP, an ARBO which is composed of ARB-members who are residents of Barangays Quezon, Nadawisan, San Jose, Curvada and Pitugo. Lantangan and Curvada are both recipients of the Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS) of DAR. In these areas ARBs/Farmers work as a group and practice the Block Farming system to maximize the utilization of their agricultural lands.
Although the said project is only at its early stage, PARPO I Herald Tambal believes it is a worthy endeavor because it will play a vital role in reviving the “economies of scale” concept in Agrarian Reform Communities (ARCs) when it comes to their agricultural and livestock enterprise. He said that this will not only increase the household income of ARBs/Farmers, but will also help elevate the overall economy of Masbate province.
The project adheres to the “ridge to reef” approach under Natural Resources Governance with emphasis on proper crop and animal waste management. It also subscribes to gender and development equality wherein Rural Women are accorded fair and equal services and opportunities. (ross lustestica)