The Department of Agrarian Reform - Cordillera Administrative Region (DAR-CAR) Field Operations Division, DAR Central Office in partnership with Bureau of Jail Management and Penology - CAR (BJMP-CAR) and BJMP Central Office, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development - CAR (DSWD-CAR) have just concluded their Documentation and Validation of Agrarian Reform Beneficiary Organizations (ARBOs) under the Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (EPAHP) program last December 7-8, 2022 at The Orchard Hotel, Baguio City and Taba-ao and Cuba Barangay, Kapangan, Benguet.
The EPAHP is a program of the Inter-Agency Task Force Zero Hunger in which DAR and BJMP are partnered for the sourcing of agricultural products from the Agrarian Reform Beneficiary Organization for the consumption of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) and with DSWD for their Supplemental Feeding Program (SLP).
DAR Undersecretary of Support Services Atty. Milagros Isabel A. Cristobal shared in her message, "The support that DAR gives to the ARBs and ARBOs is to make sure that the produce that comes from the land reaches the tables.” She also said that the whole value-chain approach and the marketing agreements that DAR has with partner agencies continue the progress of the success of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs), and she is grateful for the partnership of BJMP and DSWD to help the beneficiaries.
DAR-CAR Regional Director (RD) Samuel S. Solomero said in his message, "We need to increase productivity in order to collaborate with partner agencies. Because this is good for our farmers to market their products and boost their income."
DAR EPAHP National Point Person Susan Gambalan said that the national marketing sales reached P1 Billion this year. And expressed her gratitude and appreciation for the efforts of the Regional and Provincial Offices that despite the lack of budget for EPAHP in the field offices and the various challenges they face including the pandemic, they were able to successfully implement the project.
National EPAHP Focal Person and BJMP Jail Senior Superintendent (JSSupt) Bernardo M. Sanchez expressed BJMP’s commitment to supporting farmers and their organizations as direct buyers of agricultural produce for PDLs. As a testament to their commitment, he reported the purchases of BJMP from Jan-Dec 2022. BJMP’s purchases nationwide reached P34.5 million involving 459 ARBOs, showing an increase of 4% compared to the previous year. For CAR alone, purchases reached P986,321.00 involving 47 ARBOs, which shows a 34% increase from last year’s purchases.
BJMP RD Jail Chief Superintendent (JCSupt) Revelina A. Sindol gave her commendation for the expanding and growing partnership between DAR and BJMP. The Marketing Agreements for 2022 have reached 47. She also said, “Gaps and challenges are inevitable but through good communication between partners and collaborative partnership issues and concerns were addressed.”
DSWD OIC-RD Leo L. Quintilla through a video message showed his support and congratulated DAR as 21.95% of the 297 Community-Based Organizations (CBO) are linked to markets through EPAHP.
Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer II (PARPO II) of Benguet Virginia D. Aycud said that these types of activities lead us to assess the status of EPAHP implementation where we engage and communicate directly with the ARBs and ARBOs for us to truly see and identify their needs. And to nurture the growing partnership of the ARBOs and BJMP.
A site visitation was also conducted in the production farm of ARBO Taba-ao Cuba Multipurpose Cooperative (TACU MPC.) Officials and staff from DARCO, DARRO, DAR-Benguet, BJMPCO, and BJMP-CAR traveled to where the Egg Production and Vegetable Production projects of the ARBO are located. The process of production and means of transportation of their produce was witnessed by the officials, which included hiking and walking through a hanging bridge with a length of 162 meters.
TACU MPC Manager Rosally H. Dulay expressed her appreciation to DAR for their effort in making a marketing agreement with BJMP, especially during the pandemic because they were worried that their egg production would go to waste.
Afterward, a "Kumustahan” Session was done with the attendance of the ARBO, DAR, BJMP, and LGU officials at the Cuba Barangay Hall, Kapangan, Benguet. The open forum led to conversations on which issues and concerns could be addressed, what improvements and developments were done, the needs of the ARBs, and other matters. After the site visitation, the ARBO was commended by the officials and wardens because of the efforts to deliver goods to their office, and they wish to continue the support and partnership they have with each other.