LEGAZPI CITY, March 8 (PNA) – Following the completion last year of 23 agrarian reform support projects worth PHP47.9 million, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has allocated this year around PHP365 million for 35 new projects in the Bicol province of Camarines Norte.
Luis Bueno Jr., DAR regional director based here, on Tuesday said that among last year’s completed projects in the province are the construction of a farm-to-market roads (FMR), health station, cay care center, multi-purpose building, warehouse, solar dyers and potable water system in Labo municipality.
In San Lorenzo Ruiz town, the projects completed are the construction of two multi-purpose buildings, a warehouse, concreting of three FMRs, solar dryer and three day care centers while in Paracale are the construction of a multi-purpose building and a day care center.
Bueno said four projects—a multi-purpose pavement cum solar dryer, concreting of a FMR and an access road -- were also done in Basud municipality.
All these projects, he said, are for the benefit of agrarian reform communities (ARCs) composed of hundreds of families that are agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) while the multi-purpose building and warehouse projects have been awarded to agrarian reform beneficiary organizations (ARBOs).
Their implementations fall under the Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS), a DAR initiative described by Bueno as an intervention under the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III, which aims to improve farm productivity and earning capabilities of ARBs.
With ARCCESS, which is also in line with the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reform (CARPER), he said, the government aims to transform ARBs into viable entrepreneurs by providing them with support services to enhance their farming capabilities and increase their income.
These completed projects are now giving the ARCs and poor rural communities access to livelihood, helping them develop sustainable agribusinesses activities and provide lasting improvements in the well-being of the marginalized sectors of the beneficiary communities, according to the DAR regional chief.
Following the completion of these PHP47.9-million projects, the DAR-Bicol will soon be starting with the next PHP364.7-million similar projects assigned to other ARCs in the province which are set to be completed before the end of this year, Bueno said.
With all these funding for two consecutive years totaling over PHP412.6 million, he said, Camarines Norte is now considered the biggest beneficiary in Bicol of ARCCESS followed by Camarines Sur, PHP369 million, and Sorsogon, PHP139 million.
A second class province located at the northwestern tip of the Bicol Peninsula, Camarines Norte has an economy that largely depends on agriculture, with grain crops, vegetables, coconuts, rootcrops and fruits as its main products.
ARCCESS funds, Bueno said, are provided through the Agrarian Reform Communities Projects (ARCP) 2 with national and local government counterparts whose implementation since 2011 is being supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB)/OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID).
The ARCP 2, he said, aims to reduce poverty and, thus, improve the socio-economic status of the identified communities in selected ARCs and ARC clusters.
Specifically, the project aims to increase the income of the ARBs and other farmers in the project areas and to contribute to improved quality of life in the ARC in a sustainable manner.
Bueno said ARCCESS is not only providing ARCs with support infrastructure projects in Bicol but also dispersing common service facilities like mechanized farming equipment -- including farm tractors, power tillers, floating tillers, threshers, reapers, water pumps and sprayers to ARBs.
So far, a total of 120 units of farm machineries worth PHP48 million were already distributed by DAR to ARBs in Bicol.
Among the recipients of the equipment are the Bicol Sugar Coconut Planters Association (BISUCOPA) based in Pili town, Pinit Irrigators Association (Pinia) in Ocampo and Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Tinawagan (Alamat) Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Tigaon, all in Camarines Sur.
Other recipients in Camarines Sur were the Bayanihan Savings Replication Organization (BSRO) of Del Gallego town, Quepotol Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (QFMPC) based in the municipality of Milaor and San Agustin-San Ramon Farmer’s Cooperative Inc. (SARFC) of Bula.
At the same time, the program is a government effort towards providing ARBs a window for business, livelihood opportunities and economic growth and seeing to it that they are provided with assistance to sustain their livelihood by improving the organizational capacities of ARBOs in agri-enterprise development.
Bueno cited as an example the ARCCESS-assisted project given to the ARBO in Labo, Camarines Norte--the commercial production of coconut-based vinegar and amino sauce.
The Labo ARBO started the project last year and it will later be radiated to other areas in Bicol to boost ARBs' earning capabilities and enhance the commercial production of these coconut-based products.
The assistance given by DAR to this project, Bueno said, was composed of the provision of processing equipment such as an acetator set composed of large-size jacketed kettle, high-pressure burner, storage drum, compressor, digital PH meter, large blue carbon containers, double-burner gas stove with pre-loaded LPG cylinder tank, working tables, hot air gun for bottle sealing and bottle caps—all worth about PHP200,000.
Also part of the ARCCESS program is the provision of comprehensive business training programs to officials and members of ARBOs who are given learning on business etiquette, marketing assistance, accounting and financial management, credit funds and guarantee programs, among others, Bueno added. (PNA) FFC/FGS/DOC/CBD