LA CASTELLANA -- A memorandum of agreement was signed on Friday by officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Agriculture (DA), and Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) here as a joint effort in the implementation of the P44-million sugar block farm (SBF) project in Negros Occidental.
The signing activity was held at Barangay Robles, the site of the Hacienda Malaga Cuenca Agrarian Reform Cooperative (Macarben), one of the 35 agrarian reform beneficiaries organizations (Arbos) covered by the SBF project.
It was chosen as the signing site because of its historical success in land reform struggle.
The agreement was signed by DAR Region Western Visayas Director Stephen Leonidas, DA-Negros Isalnd Region Regional Executive Director Renato Manantan, SRA Manager III Doreta de los Santos, in the presence of La Castellana Mayor Alberto Nicor and Barangay Robles village chief Triffon Joefred Zapanta.
Leonidas said the SBF project, which is under the Accelerated and Sustainable Anti-Poverty Program (Asap) of the government, aims to ensure economic growth benefits for the poor and deliberately address the key factors that limit their participation in the development process.
Under the agreement, SRA will take charge of the technical assistance like trainings and farm materials while DA will be mainly involved in the funding and technical support as well.
For its part, DAR will focus on the total and institutional aspects, and will be in-charge of organizing the farmers.
“The sugar block farm project will improve the productivity of sugarcane farms collectively managed by the Arbos through mainly increasing their production income,” Leonidas said, adding that it is aligned with the purpose of addressing issue on high poverty incidence in the province.
SBF is done by consolidating small farms of ARBs into a plantation farm with a minimum area of 30 hectares within a two-kilometer radius. Such activities are aligned and implemented to ensure the efficient use of farm machineries and equipment, volume purchase of inputs, financing, and other operational advantages.
Negros Occidental is currently the leading province in terms of SBF implementation.
Of the 35 sugar block farms managed by different ARB organizations in the province, 19 are located in the north while the other 16 are situated in six local government units in the south.
DAR records showed these sugar block farms cover a total area of 2,710 hectares comprised of about 3,000 farmer-beneficiaries.
Part of the P44 million allocation was already released to various farms which have been implementing sugar block farming since the previous years, Leonidas said.
The said fund for SBF project is part of the P719 million in total funds allocated by the DAR for Negros Occidental this year intended for land tenure services, technical assistance, common service facilities, and infrastructure.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 24, 2015.