KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato, June 30 (PIA) -- Agrarian reform beneficiaries in North Cotabato are expected to gain more from sugarcane production with the implementation of the Sugarcane Block Farming Convergence Program of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Sugar Regulation Administration (SRA), an agrarian reform officer said today.
Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Marion Abella said the DAR-SRA partnership aims to improve the farm productivity of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) beneficiaries engaged in sugarcane production through block farming.
Under the convergence initiative, projected cane yield could increase from average of 49.8 tons of per hectare to 75 tons per hectare.
“Sugarcane block farming encourages ARBs to group their farms into an aggregate area of 30 to 50 hectares which will make their production more cost-efficient and more profitable,” Abella said.
“What’s good with this block farming is that the ownership of each small farm is still maintained and respected, thus giving the landowners a share in the profit or earnings in using the land for sugarcane production,” she added.
Abella noted that DAR has already established to two sugarcane block farms in the province consisting of 30 hectares in Barangay Palma Perez, M’lang and 31 hectares in Barangay Kibudoc, Matalam.
“ARB sugarcane block planters are assisted and monitored by DAR under the Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS) Program,” she said.
Abella added that DAR is supervising 30 hectares and 31 hectares of sugarcane block farms in M’lang and Matalam, respectively, which are also recipients of the sugarcane farm mechanization project under the ARCCESS Program.
Meanwhile, Emelita Mayol, Program Beneficiaries Development Division chief, emphasized help for the ARBS will not be limited to improving production process but will also cover training to help them become entrepreneurs.
“DAR has the vision for farmers to upgrade their living condition through the provision of support services interventions such as the ARCCESS program,” Mayol said.
DAR, she explained further, provides production aid to ARB organizations through the Agricultural Production Credit Program (APCP), a transition credit program to prepare the latter to become credit conduits and help address credit needs of their members.
Under the scheme, an ARB may avail of loan amounting to P50,000 per hectare for newly planted sugarcane or P40,000 per hectare for ratoon sugarcane as recommended by the ARB organization.
A sugarcane planter can avail of loans for 3 hectares.
In line with the program implementation, DAR gathered at least 40 sugarcane farmers from M’lang and Matalam for a 3-day Outreach Program of the Sugar Industry (OPSI) seminar on sugarcane production.
They were also oriented and enlightened on the challenges and implications of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) to the sugarcane industry by 2015.
SRA Chief Agriculturist Dina Fernandez said sugarcane is one of the important industries in the Philippine that could contribute around P76 billion to the economy annually.
“With the AFTA implementation by 2015, small-scale sugarcane planters especially those that are not farming profitably could hardly survive due to the influx of imported goods in the market,” she said. “That’s why we are forming them into block farms to expedite the expansion of sugarcane areas and to coach them how to manage their farms more efficiently.”
AFTA lowers tariffs imposed on imported goods to five percent to even zero which will give farmers a hard time and tough competition from ASEAN competitors. (DEDoguiles-PIA 12 with ROrejudos-DAR North Cotabato)