Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Continuing Government Support Improves Lives Of Cordillera Farmers

Continuing Government Support Improves Lives Of Cordillera Farmers

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Farmers in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) said they do not belong to poor category given the assistance provided to them by the government through the different agencies.

“I went abroad but I was not able to save money. I went home and decided to be a corn farmer and that was when my life improved,” Marivic Raganit, president of the Federation of Corn Farmers in the municipality of Paracelis, Mt. Province, said in Ilocano during a press conference at the Department of Agriculture (DA) regional office here Monday as part of the Farmers and Fisherfolk month celebration.

“Proud farmer po kami. Dito po makikita na ako mismo ang testimony (We are proud as farmers. I’m a living testimony [of what farming can do for the lives of people]),” she said.

Marivic shared that she used to work as a daycare worker when she was still single, but moved to Manila where she was employed as a cashier in a factory depot and then a store manager before he got married and decided to go home to the province.

“We used to stay with relatives because we did not have our own house. We did not own a land,” she said.

Marivic decided to leave for an overseas job due to the difficult life situation, leaving her daughter who was then two years old. She worked as an overseas Filipino worker for nine years from 2007 to 2016.

Her daughter is now a third year nursing student while her second child is two years old.

From the minimal savings she brought home, Marivic started to build a house and was only able to complete its construction using savings generated from venturing into corn farming in 2016.

“Farmers are dedicated and are industrious workers, which are their capital in making their lives better,” Marivic said.

With the income she gets out of farming, she opened a small business that also supplements her family’s earnings.

“I was able to invest in other things and I can buy things that used to be impossible to obtain,” Marivic said.

Oliver Duque, president of the Federation of Rice Farmers in the municipality of Flora, Apayao, said farmers in the Cordillera do not fit the description for farmers from other regions.

“Mayayaman ang farmers dahil sa farmers nanggagaling ang pagkain ng bawat Pilipino (Farmers are rich because they provide the food of every Filipino),” he said.

Oliver, who is from Barangay Malayugan, Flora, Apayao, which used to be a New People’s Army (NPA)-infested area, said people in their village used to be very hard up in life until the Department of Agriculture (DA) provided support to the farmers.

“When the DA came, they brought the project High Yielding Technology Adapt technology under the rice program and gave seeds,” he said.

“Our money is no longer (used) for buying seeds to plant rice for consumption and income because the program that started in 2014 later gave capital that farmers can access,” he said.

Oliver said that from 222 members, with only 22 who are active, their membership has ballooned to 1,637 and all of them benefit from the assistance extended to the farmers.

Danny Evasco, a livestock farmer from Atok, Benguet, said in Ilocano: “Farmers are rich because we help each other, (and) the government help us.”

“Since I became a farmer, raising pigs and planting coffee and sayote together with (my) townmates, we have never seen our children stop schooling and we always have food on our table,” he said.

The three farmers said they have received support from the government in the form of training, seeds, capitalization, farm inputs, and even marketing of their goods, and assistance to their cooperatives and associations that allow improvement of the farmers’ lives.

Lawyer Jennilyn Dawayan, DA-Cordillera Administrative Region director, during the same press conference, said the agency has at least PHP1 billion budget for this year for farm-to-market roads construction, and extension and mechanization funds provided to farmers to improve the agricultural sector and the farmers’ conditions.

She said the budget is on top of the different foreign and locally-funded special projects like the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP), Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD), Kadiwa, Updating of the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA), the 4K (Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran ng Kababayang Katutubo), Young Farmers’ Challenge, fuel assistance program, and mainstreaming of climate resilient agriculture.

Except for the PRDP, these programs received a total of PHP106.181-million budget in 2023, while about PHP135.38 billion has so far been released this year.

For the PRDP, the region received a total of 108 sub-projects amounting to PHP3.217 billion from 2014 to 2023.

An enterprise project for vegetable consolidation project will be turned over in June.

“All this money is intended to improve the agriculture sector in a holistic approach not just one farmer, but the entire community with farm-to-market roads, marketing funds, capitalization, farmers’ training and mechanization initiatives as well as activities, programs and projects that will improve the farmers’ condition,” Dawayan said.

She said other agencies are also collaborating with the DA to further improve the agriculture sector. (PNA)

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