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Sugar block farm project to benefit 3,000 Negros Occidental farmers

Z WEB NATL 20151027 R06 NEGOCC MOA SIGNING NEGROSLA CASTELLANA, NEGROS OCCIDENTAL—The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) recently forged an agreement with the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to enhance sugar block farming and improve the productivity and income of 35 agrarian reform beneficiaries organizations (ARBOs) here.

The agreement was signed by DAR Regional Director Stephen Leonidas, DA-Negros Regional Executive Director Renato Manantan, SRA Manager Doreta de los Santos, in the presence of La Castellana Mayor Alberto Nicor and Barangay Robles village chief Triffon Joefred Zapanta.

Leonidas said “the sugarcane block farming (SBF) project involves the consolidation of awarded lands to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) with three hectares or less to be integrated into 30 to 50 hectares through different schemes such as partnership, joint venture, and sharing while preserving individual ownership.”

Under the agreement, the DAR will focus on the total and institutional aspects, and will be in-charge of organizing the farmers.

“The SBF project seeks to improve the productivity of sugarcane farms collectively managed by cooperatives,” Leonidas said, adding that it is aligned with the purpose of addressing issue on high poverty incidence in the province.

For its part, the SRA will take care of the technical assistance like trainings and farm materials, and the DA of the funding and technical support.

The SBF project of DAR is being implemented under the Accelerated and Sustainable Anti-Poverty (ASAP) program of the government.

“The ASAP program is an inter-agency effort that seeks to reduce poverty by creating sustainable employment and income-generating opportunities for the poor,” said Leonidas.

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 in six local government units in the south.

DAR records show these sugar block farms cover a total area of 2,710 hectares comprised of about 3,000 farmer-beneficiaries.

A portion of the P44 million budget allocation was already released to various farms which have been implementing sugar block farming since the previous years,” Leonidas said.

The signing activity was held at Barangay Robles, the site of the Hacienda Malaga Cuenca Agrarian Reform Cooperative (Macarben), one of the 35 ARBOs covered by the SBF project. (Pinky Roque)

Seated from right: SRA Manager Doreta de los Santos, DAR-Regional Director Stephen Leonidas, La Castellana Mayor Alberto Nicor, Barangay Robles village chief Triffon Joefred Zapanta and DA-Regional Director Renato Manantan sign the memorandum of agreement as parties and witnesses for the implementation of the sugar block farm project for 35 ARB organizations in Negros Occidental. Standing from right: Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Teresita Mabunay, Public Assistance & Media Relations Director Erlinda Manluctao, a DAR staff, PARPO Ronald Gareza and PARPO Lucresia Taberna.

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