Agusan del Norte agrarian reform groups earn millions amidst pandemic

A 10-wheeler hauling truck of SIUFMULCO carries an estimated of 20 tons of abaca fiber ready to transport its products from Caraga Region to the market center in Baybay, Leyte.

Agusan del Norte -- While the rest of the farmers organizations in the country groan in the face of recession due to coronavirus pandemic, others appeared unaffected, like in the case of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)-assisted agrarian reform beneficiaries’ organizations (ARBOs) in Agusan del Norte which continuously conducted their farming and marketing activities even during the impact on travel restrictions.

Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer II (PARPO II) Andre B. Atega, CESO V, said the farmer-organizations, who serve as frontliners in maintaining food sufficiency in the area, remained profitable, and recorded millions of pesos in gross sales.

“Nothing deters our cooperatives and the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in Agusan del Norte to continue farming and selling their products to markets.

Planning Officer and Provincial Project coordinator of the Project ConVERGE (Convergence on Value Chain Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment) Annelyn R. Chan, said that the San Isidro Upland Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SIUFMULCO) in Santiago town, is one example of farmers’ cooperative in the area which continuously conducts their farming activities and market their abaca fiber product during the pandemic.

Chan said that SIUFMULCO successfully took several deliveries during the lockdown period across Caraga region and earned a gross sale of more than P37-million from abaca fiber sold to a market center in Baybay, Leyte.

“Despite the challenges, deliveries of their products continue. Commendation should also be given to the efforts of DAR partner-agencies on the deliveries of abaca fiber since it is also covered by certifications from the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Philippines Fiber Development Authority (Phil-FIDA),” Chan added.

A 10-wheeler hauling truck of SIUFMULCO carries an estimated of 20 tons of abaca fiber ready to transport its products from Caraga Region to the market center in Baybay, Leyte.

SIUFMULCO Manager Leonila Mila said that the volume traded from March to June reached up to 535.684 metric tons or 56% increase compared from 301.38 metric tons in the first quarter of this year resulting in an earned a gross income of P37-million or 57 percent increase from a gross sales of P21-million from the first quarter, Mila added.

This was also the case of the Avanceña Beneficiaries Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (ABFMC) in Cabadbaran City and Butuan-Agusan Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (BAFMPC) which continuously supplied milled-rice not only to regular markets but also to local government units' social amelioration program.

Both agrarian cooperatives earned profits by delivering thousands of sacks of milled rice which made the groups earned millions of pesos in gross sales.

DAR Program Beneficiaries Development Division (PBDD) Ellen J. Torralba said that these cooperatives have shown extra effort to reach out to their respective buyers where they could sell their produce.

ABFMPC Chair Sergio Baguhin said, "We managed to deliver 1,600 sacks of milled rice from March 30 to April 6, 2020, which made the coop earned over Php3-million."

Three more cooperatives, whose entrepreneurship lies on the delivery of assorted vegetables were also able to continuously deliver and sell their produce during the lockdown period. These cooperatives whose members are certificates of landownership award (CLOA) holders include: the Vegetable Producers Association (DRCHVPA) in Tubay, Agusan del Norte; the Kilometer 7 Producers Cooperative (KM. 7 PC) in Butuan City; and the De Oro Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative (DARBECO), of Brgy. De Oro in Butuan City.

These 3 cooperatives also ensured the steady supply of vegetables to Butuan City Jail Management and Penology (BJMPC) as part of their marketing tie-up arrangement facilitated by DAR under the Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty program (EPAHPP).

The farmers’ organizations were able to continue their farming and marketing activities because of the steady assistance provided by the agency through its various projects and the issuance by the DAR of quarantine accreditation passes to the ARBOs for them to be able to sell their agricultural produce within and outside the region.