CAGAYAN DE ORO – There was a sweet smell of success when the agro-enterprise facilitators (AEF) from both the Department of Agrarian Reform and local government units gathered during the first Agro-enterprise Development (AED) Certificate Program commencement exercises on January 27 2014 at the Nursing Auditorium of Xavier University.
Thirty (30) AE facilitators from Regions 1, 3, 10 and 11 successfully completed the AED course under the DAR-Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Partnership Program with their project goal “linking agrarian reform beneficiaries to the corporate supply chain.”
In his message, Joseph Curry, the country representative of CRS stated the importance of helping small-scale farmers: “We are here today because we believe in the idea that small farmers play an important part in agriculture and that supporting them is essential in bringing them out of poverty,” said Curry.
DAR Secretary Virgilio De los Reyes, who was the commencement speaker, shared about the evolution of markets and profits in the country relating to what it has become today. “A few decades ago, we didn’t talk about market and profit. We talked about price control on rice and fertilizers. We talked about commodity and supply management. But now it’s different. Now we’re linking small holders to the private buyers and commercial markets,” said De los Reyes.
He further expressed his gratitude to the graduates for going through almost a year of extensive training just so they could help and impart the knowledge taught to them on AED to the ARBs. “I wish I knew how to reward people like you for doing such a great job to help our farmers,” said De los Reyes.
The CRS had initially chosen Region 10 as pilot area covering 3 municipalities in Bukidnon namely Sumilao, Impasugong and Malaybalay.
It has now expanded to Umingan, Pangasinan in Region 1; Llanera, Nueva Ecija in Region 3; Balingasag and Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental also in Region 10; and Matanao, Davao del Sur in Region 11. All clusters in these areas have linked their agricultural products to different corporate markets.
The AE facilitators underwent four (4) weeklong trainings focused on the 8-steps clustering approach of the AED certificate course. The trainings were facilitated by CRS in collaboration with XU-Southeast Asia Rural Social Leadership Institute (SEARSOLIN). The graduates were required to present and defend their case studies, submit progress reports and video documentations.
The DAR, specifically the Bureau of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development (BARBD), acted as project steering committee and technical working group. The DAR-CRS Partnership Project aims to increase the production and income of ARBs and their household through agricultural extension, marketing assistance, and capacity-building with the assistance of the AE facilitators. (Florence A. Ramos)