Monday, October 12, 2015

BuB provides Ligao City farmers starter kits for organic farming
By Danny O. Calleja

LIGAO CITY, Oct. 12 (PNA) –- An insured carabao plus various farm implements for organic farming formed the organic crop production starter kit that each of the 200 local farmers has received from the city government through supplementary funds derived from the national government’s Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process.

The carabao life insurance, with premiums paid out of the same fund to the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp., will ensure that the animal is replenished in case of death from causes beyond the control of the farmer.

Other components of each starter kit are carabao vitamins and dewormer, a kilogram of African Night Crawler (ANC), a manual rake, hoe and spade that are all necessary tools for the conventional manner of land preparation and tilling required by organic farming.

The ANC, known scientifically as Eudrilus eugeniae, is considered as the most efficient composting earthworm in the tropics and one of the most common species of earthworm that have been identified worldwide as having the best potential for breaking down organic materials.

Ahead of this kit distribution, Mayor Patricia Gonzalez-Alsua on Sunday told the Philippines News Agency that the city government, through its agriculture office, provided these 200 recipients with a two-day organic rice production training which served as a prerequisite for them to qualify to the grant.

On-farm technical assistance and veterinary services for the carabaos will also be provided by the City Agriculture Office as the recipients’ farming activities progress under the close monitoring of a team organized for the purpose, she said.

“These are to ensure that the farmers really become more productive in their organic farming activities and their earning capability enhanced for increased purchasing power leading to their liberation from the bondage of poverty,” said the lady mayor as she expressed keenness in keeping her locality’s growth in agricultural productivity sustained.

Earlier, the city government was acknowledged by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as among the few local government units (LGUs) in Bicol making use of funds received from the GPBP in agricultural productivity.

The acknowledgement came as the DSWD recently released the latest tranche of the fund also commonly called the Bottom-up Budgeting (BuB) for its Sustainable Livelihood Program, a community-based capacity building initiative that seeks to improve the participants’ socio-economic status.

The GPBP being applied by the Aquino administration is a somewhat modern approach to planning in the use of government’s financial resources that is different from the usual top-down budgeting where the high-level executives make all the decisions in fund dispensations.

This scheme provides the opportunity for grantees to be involved in setting their own goals and expectations for a given financial period and gives them ownership of the decisions, motivating them to meet budgetary constraints that otherwise might seem unattainable or unrealistic if they were delivered by someone without as much understanding of their day-to-day operations.

The GPBP exercise was started in 2012 through the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cluster and the Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Cluster as an strategy that hopes to empower civil society organizations and citizen’s groups to engage local government and national government agencies and make them more responsive to the people’s needs.

This city is among the 79 of the 120 LGUs in Bicol assured of Php45 million in extra funding for three years (2014-2016) for use in GPBP-driven initiatives such as projects which include agri-livelihood projects, farm-to-market roads, irrigation and other agri-infra facilities, among others.

These LGUs automatically qualified for the GPBP for having met the requirements, such as being the recipient of the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) Seal of Good Housekeeping and implementation of Public Financial Management Improvement Plan as determined by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Bicol for this year has been allocated by the DBM a total of Php1.7 billion in GPBP funds distributed for release to LGUs and other beneficiaries by 14 line agencies -- including the Departments of Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources, Education, Energy, Health, Labor and Employment, Transportation, and Trade and Industry, aside from the DILG and DSWD.

In acknowledging the city’s no-nonsense use of the fund, DSWD Regional Director Arnel Garcia said the city’s organic agricultural productivity projects are exceptionally laudable since it ditches the old way of “hand-feeding” patronage and conforms with the proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.

Unlike most LGUs which use their GPBP allocations in infrastructures projects whose usefulness are only for a certain period of time, he said, this city’s use of the fund in providing skills training, farming technology education and farming kits is of lifetime worth for the individual beneficiaries as well as the community, which would gain in terms of food sufficiency from their enhanced longtime productivity.

Rep. Fernando Gonzalez, who has been working closely with the national government in providing Albay’s third congressional district which he represents with wide opportunities for its farmers to produce and earn more through farm modernization, also lauded the city government’s initiative, citing the importance of organic crops production.

The district covers this city and six other agricultural and coastal municipalities.

“While our district is the rice granary of Albay, it is also of utmost need that we produce other crops such as vegetables, especially organic, to sustain local food sufficiency and contribute more to the country’s food security program of the administration of Pres. Aquino,” Gonzalez added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD