Monday, May 19, 2014

Albay rice farmers advance toward farm mechanization through DAR aid

LEGAZPI CITY, May 19 (PNA) -– Farmers in a remote Albay town are advancing toward modern rice farming through the recent grant of mechanized farm equipment by the regional office for Bicol here of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

The grant is under the common service facilities (CSFs) dispersal component of Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS), a DAR program under the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III that aims to improve farm productivity and earning capabilities of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs).

This is in line with the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reform (CARPER).

The CSFs that the Agrarian Reform Community (ARC) in Barangay Kamanitohan, Manito, Albay, received during a recent simple turn-over rites at the town’s municipal hall were two units of hand tractors, two units of mechanical harvesters, two units of mechanical transplanter and a palay thresher, DAR Regional Director Luis Bueno Jr. on Monday said.

All items, which include 8,000 pieces of rice seedling tray and turned over to the farmer’s group called Kamanitohan ARC Irrigator’s Association (KARCIA), were placed at P3.4 million in total cost.

Manito, which is located in the southeastern coastal tip of Albay separated by high mountains from this city, is a fourth class municipality whose about 22,000 residents rely principally on farming and fishing for livelihood.

While it plays host to the operations of the Lopez-owned Energy Development Corporation (EDC) at the 125,000-hectare Bac-Man (Bacon-Manito) geothermal power field that straddles over the boundaries of Albay and Sorsogon, the municipality is considered the most under-developed locality in the province.

Apart from dispersal of CSFs, ARCESS, Bueno said, also provides ARBs a window for business, livelihood opportunities and economic growth.

It is under this intention that the equipment were granted to the KARCIA through a memorandum of understanding defining the policies governing its utilization by members and non-members by way of a rental system.

According to Romulo Britanico, DAR Albay Provincial Agrarian Reform Program officer, any rice farmer in the municipality can avail the service of the facilities under the rental system formulated by KARCIA, reviewed by the DAR and approved by the Manito local government unit (LGU).

The rental system makes the association an agri-enterprise that will help not only to improve farm productivity in the locality but also the ARBs’ earning capabilities, Britanico explained.

Before the grant of CSFs to the KARCIA, he said, a Community-Based Enterprise Organizer (CBEO) was deployed by DAR to guide the organization in creating a business plan and built its capacity in managing the equipment as a business unit.

Through ARCCESS, the DAR is seeing to it that ARBs are provided with assistance to sustain their livelihood by improving the organizational capacities of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organizations (ARBOs) in agri-enterprise development, according to Bueno.

DAR interventions like this, he said, has been leading farm consolidations in Bicol and in turn contribute to better prices, improved net income and sustainable livelihood of land reform beneficiaries.

ARCCESS operates as a government-led inter-sectoral partnership participated in by state universities and colleges, civil society organizations and private institutions aimed at providing a range of services intended to improve the performance of ARBO’s agri-enterprise, access to markets and its ability to compete with other markets, Bueno explained.

This means that it is a convergence of the rural development agencies such as the DAR, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources with LGUs and non-government agencies into public-private partnerships toward ARC connectivity and enterprise support services, he said.

Under this program, the DAR identifies and organizes qualified farmer-beneficiaries and provide up to 90-percent premium subsidy taken from the CARPER fund and the remaining 10 per cent shouldered by the farmers as their equity.

So far, Bueno added, nearly 20 ARBOs in the six provinces of Bicol are now enjoying the benefits of ARCCESS—most of them rice and sugarcane farmers in Camarines Sur, cattle raisers in Masbate, abaca producers in Catanduanes and coconut and corn producers in Albay, Sorsogon and Camarines Norte. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/UTB