Philippines: Ifad projects to boost rice, rubber production in Zamboanga provinces–DAR
An official of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on Thursday announced the launching of two projects, dubbed as Convergence on Value Chain Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment in Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur, to boost rice farmers’ income in the region.
Backed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad), Project ConVERGE aims to improve the production of rice and rubber.
In a statement, DAR Regional Director Julita Ragandang said farmers in the area will receive farm inputs, equipment and get help in the form of rural infrastructure projects, farmer trainings and links to various markets.
The target is to empower 10,000 farmers to become agribusinessmen and women.
“This project aids not only the big and established cooperatives, but also smallholder farmers. Our goal is to consolidate the primary crops of these coops in their clusters, provide them with complete interventions so that they can benefit from their business enterprise through increase in volume of production and marketing and, likewise, improvement in product quality. With these, our farmers can gain a bigger percentage of their income and be empowered to be their own businessmen,” Ragandang said.
The launch coincides with DAR’s presentation of an overview of the entire five-year implementation of the projects to agrarian rural beneficiaries and major stakeholders to ensure mutual understanding, and solicit support and commitment.
To increase rubber production, the DAR said the Resettlement ARC Cluster Rubber Development Project would help increase the quality and quantity of the rubber production of the smallholder farmers in the area.
The project’s launch was welcomed by Cabong Tampilisan Multipurpose Cooperative Chairman Erlie Handomon, saying it has been a lifelong dream to increase production and improve the quality of their rubber produce.
Through the Ifad-funded and DAR-implemented project, they hope to increase their share in the global rubber market. Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer (Parpo) II Mohammad Dassan Adju underscored the importance of the local government unit’s support and the farmers’ active participation to make the project a success.
“There will be issues and problems along the way, for sure. But don’t be afraid to ask. We are here to listen and to help,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Salug Valley Cluster Rice Project in the province of Zamboanga del Sur, is provided with a program called Intensified Rice Production, Milling and Marketing. With the current plan of providing an all-encompassing project, Parpo II Arturo Soria is confident that the project interventions will address the key areas for an increased production by 25 percent in the next three years.
“Part of the plan is to construct a rice milling facility so farmers need not travel far to rent or pay the services from another facility. ConVERGE will also be supplying improved farm seedlings and inputs, consequently producing a higher quality of rice which is seen to be marketed as the organic rice of Salug,” Soria said.
DAR said this year’s total budget for the region amounts to around P40 million, with P11.5 million for Zamboanga del Norte, P14.5 million for Zamboanga del Sur, and P5.5 million for Zamboanga Sibugay.
Based on the regional office’s plan for 2017, procurement will start by the fourth quarter to cover necessities from office equipment and supplies, as well as farming inputs, value chain facilities and equipment for the clusters.
Meanwhile, training for staff and coordination meetings for beneficiaries and concerned agencies have already been conducted left and right for the first half of the year and will continue until year end.
Also comprising the annual target is the commencement of the Rural Infrastructure projects for more than 8 kms of farm-to-market roads and a 95-hectare communal irrigation system. Prioritized sub-projects will be located at the Municipality of Godod in Zamboanga del Norte and the towns of Mahayag, Tambulig and Aurora in Zamboanga del Sur.
Ragandang said the DAR will launch soon the Zambo Sibugay Rubber Agribusiness Project which targets around 3,000 beneficiaries.
-- Business Mirror
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