Leyte sees farming as key to lower poverty rate

BURAUEN, Leyte -- The Provincial Government in Leyte is eyeing an eight percent drop in poverty incidence by 2022 through local agriculture development projects.

Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla is upbeat to bring down poverty rate to 15 percent within five years from 23.6 percent two years ago.

“I am confident of achieving this because we have the solutions that really work in our model barangay (village),” Petilla said during the recognition of outstanding farmer’s organization in the province on July 21.

The governor was referring to Villa Conzoilo village in Jaro town, where families managed to rid of poverty through farming.

The association started in 2010 when 18 farmers bonded together to start compact farming with an initial capital of P1,800 and two hectares land area.

The farmers first grow native vegetables and later shift to “salad-type” vegetables not normally grown in Leyte province and Eastern Visayas region.

Now, the farmers have P4-million cash in bank and P20-million assets, including the 28 hectares of land the group currently cultivates.

Replicating Villa Conzoilo’s successful farming is Villa Corazon, the farthest village to west in this town.

Village chief Rowena Portillo said improvements have been seen since they started cultivating high value crops in 2014. These crops are cabbage, lettuce, pechay, cauliflower, carrots and strawberries.

“In the past, we used to register 70 percent poverty incidence. The situation now is reversed with majority of families can finance college education, buy appliances, own a motorcycle, and curb malnutrition of children,” Portillo said.

The village suffered economic hardships when diseases infested abaca farms in 2007 and Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) destroyed almost all the coconut trees.

Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Evelyn Laviña, who was the keynote speaker during the Leyte Economics recognition in Villa Corazon village, urged farmers’ group to strengthen the organization and become united.

“The association will grow with the help of the government, which acts as an enabler. You have to do your part. If you will not give value to government assistance, it will be nothing,” she added.

Leyte economics adopts a community-based approach to capacitate the poor and marginalized villages through packages of goods and services. The program is aimed at increasing income, skills development, and improved health and nutrition status of families.

“Presently, there are 130 poor villages where the program is being implemented. The farmer-beneficiaries organized themselves into associations and undergo a 16-week season-long training on high vegetable production as initial step,” Petilla said.

This is followed by various interventions in livestock, fisheries, non-agri skills training to empower to become active members in the community. (PNA)
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