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FEATURE: A better tomorrow for Mapantig women starts with PAMANA-ARA

piaISULAN, SULTAN KUDARAT, July11 (PIA) – Jane kneads the dough until it becomes supple, smooth and elastic. Then with a sharp knife, she cuts the kneaded dough and divides it into many pieces. Each piece is weighed to get the same weight and size. She then forms the pieces into a roll and pinches a pre-mixed filling and puts it in each piece. Then she sprinkles the rolls with the home-made baking crumbs to finish the look of Spanish bread. She then places each roll into the tray and allows it to rise. It was already 11:00 o’clock in the morning. Jane unties the knot of her apron, takes off her hair net and gets ready to go home to her family. “Time now for my family,” Jane chuckled.

This is the daily routine of Mary Jane “Jane” Fernandez. Every day at around 4:30 o’clock in the morning she and her co-worker report to the bakery to prepare everything while waiting for the pandesal to be ready. At around 5:00 o’clock in the morning, they open the bakery and sell the freshly hot pandesal to the buying public.

Jane is the president of the Mapantig Women’s Association in Barangay Mapantig, Isulan, Sultan Kudarat. She also manages the bakery along with Yolina Beating as the cashier and also the treasurer of the women’s association. The other six officers of the association will report for duty at the bakery later in the morning and the others in the afternoon. The eight of them were trained to run, operate and manage the Mapantig Women’s Association bakery business.

“We have sacrificed a lot for this bakery to become successful. With the help of DAR [Department of Agrarian Reform], we formed the women’s association. DAR also referred to us experts who taught and helped us produce quality and delicious bread,” Jane said.

Jane added that as workers of the bakery they are paid P 100.00 a day as compensation. 

The bakery was a project under the PAMANA-ARA or “Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan in Agrarian Reform Areas” funded by Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) and implemented by DAR. The bakery business materialized under the 2013 budget of PAMANA.

Under PAMANA, each beneficiary organization receives P 300,000.00 worth of project as identified by the organization each year for a period of three years starting in 2013 until 2015. The objective of PAMANA program is to create strong and resilient communities to combat poverty in conflict-affected areas.

Seeing that the agrarian reform community (ARC) is far from the commercial center of Isulan, the women’s association identified bakery as a potential livelihood project. DAR provided the association with equipment, facilities, utensils and baking ingredients to jumpstart the bakery business. DAR also provided construction materials to extend the kitchen and baking area of the existing sari-sari store and transform it to a bakery store.

The bakery is situated at the heart of the ARC in Barangay Mapantig, Isulan and surrounded by oil palm trees and vast rice fields. It takes about 10-15 minutes travel or around 10 kilometers away from the commercial center of Isulan town.

The husbands and some of the women in the association are the actual beneficiaries of the land acquisition and distribution of DAR under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform program on year 2002. But progress in the community was slow even after the landless obtained 1.75 hectares of lands, fully planted with oil palm trees and ready for harvest. In the eyes of the women, the community still needs passable roads and concrete bridges to bring the products from the farm to the market. They also find it necessary to have other livelihood projects to become successful and really improve the quality of lives of their family.

Recognizing the predicament of Mapantig ARC, sometime in 2004, DAR under the Support to Agrarian Reform Communities in Central Mindanao (STARCM) identified the barangay as beneficiary community and constructed the deck girder bridge which eventually spurred the economic activity in the community.

In the same year as the bridge was constructed, DAR also constructed a day care center in the area that amounted to P 779,528.29. Jane said that some of their members have sent their children to the day care center for some fun and lessons.

Moreover, Jane Fernandez declared that the road rehabilitation project of DAR was one project that really created a big impact to their community. 

According to Jane, the road to Mapantig before was very difficult. Trucks could not easily enter because of the very poor road condition. Travel going in and out of the community costs more money and time at the time.

The P 4.4-M rehabilitation project of DAR under STARCM of the 4.6-kilometer feeder road in 2006 further spurred economic activity in the community. People were starting to come in and settled in Mapantig. Even the oil palm trucks from other towns were then able to pass through the feeder road to shorten their travel time in delivering fresh fruit bunch of oil palm to Kenram Industrial Development Inc. (KIDI) mill.

 “The influx of people passing by and entering our community has positive effect to us since it increases probability of buyers of our bakery products,” Jane beamed.

Yolina Beating, the cashier of the bakery, said that on their first month of operation, their gross income reached a staggering amount of over 90,000 pesos. 

“Every day we are earning P3,000 to P3,500, except when there is power outage. Our roller is dependent on the availability of electricity,” Yolina added.

However, Yolina disclosed that the bakery is facing challenges at present. She said the bakery need additional tools such as bread slicer, additional oven, trays, etc to increase their production of breads.

She also said that a general assembly was already scheduled so that members could raise their concerns, issues and that they could also address it properly. “They could also see and ask if how much are they earning and where do the income of the bakery go,” she added.

The bakery was not the first livelihood project given to the women’s association. When the organization was first organized sometime in 2005, DAR under the STARCM program provided them with seeds and other inputs to start the vegetable production. The project lasted for about two cycles but it eventually failed. Members are now pointing fingers as to what happened and who is responsible for the failure of the project.

Jane said that the present set of officers have good plans for the association. She added that the association is now saving money for the purchase of additional equipment and for their next project – a snack house.

Jane is aiming to give their members big shares of dividends by the end of the year. (ACAgad-PIA 12 with report from  JJBDael-DAR-SK)

Source: http://news.pia.gov.ph/index.php?article=1621405061317

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