KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato, Sept. 14 (PIA) – Some 37 farmers in Makilala, North Cotabato received draft animals with a combined cost of Php745,000 from the Department of Agrarian Reform in an effort to increase the beneficiaries’ production and income.Director III Marion Abella of DAR-North Cotabato said the draft animals consisted of 18 horses and 19 carabaos given to agrarian reform beneficiaries in line with the Corn Production, Processing and Marketing Sub-Project for Makilala under the DAR-Mindanao Sustainable Agrarian and Agriculture Development (MINSAAD) Project.
“It has been observed that draft working animals such as carabaos and horses are very limited in the area. This is why corn production is not done well due to limited number of draft animals and implements to be used for cultivation,” Abella said.
Abella explained that the draft and pack animals will be used to expand corn cultivation and to ease the hauling of corn harvests, especially on the hilly areas that are inaccessible to large farm machineries.
He further elaborated that corn production is gradually increasing in the municipality due to the cutting of old rubber trees.
He added that the sub-project aims to cover another 330 hectares for corn production in addition to the existing 550 hectares in the area.
“The expansion of corn production will be done by encouraging farmers to integrate corn to the areas with newly planted rubber trees to augment farmers’ income while their rubber trees are still unproductive,” Abella said.
Abella also said that the provision of draft animals could be helpful to lessen farmers’ practice of zero tillage that inspired use of herbicides, fertilizers and herbicide-dependent seeds, as well as the traditional kaingin method.
“These practices are harmful to the environment. We hope that the provision of these draft animals would encourage them to improve their land cultivation which trickles down to the increase in their yield and income,” he said.
The turn-over of draft animals was done in coordination with the office of the Municipal Agriculturist Office of Makilala.
Aside from the draft animals, the sub-project will also provide corn mills and post-harvest facilities to reduce the burden of the farmers in milling corn for local consumption and for marketing. (DEDoguiles-PIA 12 with report from ROrejudos-DAR-North Cotabato)