Block farming: WTF, dear DAR?-A A +A
Monday, June 18, 2012
ANY sugar farmer worth his quedan knows that sugarcane is a plantation crop and that parcelization of large productive farms into less than one to three hectare farms denies the small farmer the benefits of economies of scale.
Sugar Regulatory Administrator Gina Martin reiterated this during a consultation with members of the Mill District Development Councils at Nature’s Village earlier this month.
A study by GTZ also pointed out that, when government broke up large productive farms in the late ’80s and distributed them to agrarian reform beneficiaries, agricultural output declined and the nation was transformed from an agricultural exporter into a net agricultural importer.
Realizing this, the SRA, Department of Agriculture and Department of Agrarian Reform came up with the Sugarcane Convergence Program which aims to consolidate small farms into plantation size farms so that these farms can be collectively farmed and thus enjoy the benefits of economies of scale.
SRA manager for Planning and Policy Rosemarie Gumera disclosed during the forum that the block farming program was launched last January in Batangas with no less than Martin, DA Sec. Proceso Alcala and DAR Sec. Virgilio de los Reyes spearheading the event.
The four pilot block farms ranged from 29.5 to 34.8 hectares composed of approximately 200 small farms with a total area of about 130 hectares. This same program will be implemented in all sugar-producing provinces in the country within the year.
Under this program, beneficiaries will be provided with technical and financial assistance, including trainings, access to HYVs, GPS survey and mapping, soil sampling and analysis, financial assistance for purchase of farm machineries and implements, livelihood projects and even coaching and consultations.
In pursuit of farm productivity, successful farmers are urged to adopt the “big brother, little brother” concept in assisting small farmers to maximize the production potentials of their farms.
“Government broke up our productive lands into tiny pieces under CARP. Now government wants us to help gather these small pieces of land together and help make them productive again?” asked an incredulous Pitloy Mirasol, one of the most outspoken sugar planters in the country.
“Gina gisa kami sa amon mantika (We are being fried in our own fat),” lamented Pitloy.
(“Is Pitloy already a congressman?” asked a Manila-based friend during the forum. “No,” I replied. “It is Bebot who is the newly-elected 5th District congressman to replace Iggy.” “Ganun ba?” said my friend. “Kasi narinig ko, ang tawag sa kanya ni Administrator Martin, congressman, eh.”)
SRA, DA and DAR are on the right track in consolidating these small farms awarded to ARBs and in providing them with the necessary support services which CARP should have provided them 23 years ago.
It’s never too late, right? So I asked some ARB friends as well as agrarian reform officers in the province how they are getting along with the block farming program implementation. I know for a fact that several block farms are already being organized and are already in various stages of implementation under the program.
Was I surprised when they replied they have no idea that ARBs are already being organized into block farms in the province!
Considering the benefits which ARBs can derive from this program, how come only a select handful of ARBs know about it? How come not all agrarian reform officers know about the implementation of block farming in the province?
Is this another case of selective implementation of CARP benefits among ARBs? Ang lapit lang sa luwag ang maka benepisyo?
Come on, DAR. WTF? Where’s the fairness, dear DAR?
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 18, 2012.