Eleven LGU officials commit to support housing program for farmers

THE dawning of a new era has come for the small farmers as more local government officials have stepped forward, committing themselves to give back what is due to the once-neglected lot – decent homes – through the BALAI (Building Adequate, Livable, Affordable and Inclusive) ARB/Farmers Housing Program.

This developed after 11 local government officials expressed their commitment and support to the program during the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the project proponent, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary John R. Castriciones, and his partner, Human Settlement and Urban Development Secretary Eduardo D. del Rosario, inside the Agricultural Training Institute in Quezon City.

Bro. John, as Castriciones is fondly called, said he believes that providing the beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) decent homes would help convince them to keep their farmlots and resist the urge of pawning or selling them.

“As I go around as part of our mandate of distributing farmlots to the landless, I noticed that many of our farmers are lacking in one of the basic needs of man – shelter. That is why I thought of coming up with this program that would help enhance their living condition and eventually convince them to stick with their farmlots,” Bro. John said.

Camarines Sur Gov. Miguel Luis Villafuerte led the other 10 municipal government officials, Mayors Gwen Yamamoto of Bani and Arth Bryan Celeste of Alaminos, both in Pangasinan; Germelina Goulart of Caoyan and Joseph Simon Valdez of Santa Lucia, both in Ilocos Sur; Carlos Cabangal of Banate and Rey Grabato of Mina, both in Iloilo; Nelson Legaspi of Canaman, Camarines Sur; Marita Llamas of Mauban, Quezon; Ralph Lantion of Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya; and, Jonathan Mahimpit of Roxas, North Cotabato, in expressing their commitment to the farmers’ housing program.

The much-ballyhooed program of the DAR and DHSUD was launched last December and is being pilot-tested in Umingan, Pangasinan.

For his part, DHSUD Secretary Del Rosario said he finds the program worthwhile so that he did not hesitate “to give his consent” when Bro. John, brought up the idea to him last year.

DAR Undersecretary for Support Services Office Emily Padilla said the time has come “to show our love and support to our farmers for their immense contribution in keeping our nation together especially at this time of the Novel Coronavirus 19 pandemic.”

DAR Undersecretary for Planning, Policy and Research Office Virginia Orogo echoed: “I hope this is just the beginning of our collective efforts of ensuring that the rural poor will enjoy their right to live a comfortable life by providing them decent homes that will help enhance their human dignity.”

Report said that the farmers comprise 70 percent of the poorest of the poor in the rural areas.

Bani, Pangasinan Mayor Gwen Yamamoto agreed that the farmers deserve all the help that could be afforded to them for playing a vital role – which is to provide food on the table to every Filipino household – at the height of the pandemic.

“Our farmers, the agrarian reform beneficiaries, in fact, are the ones who helped us overcome the hardship brought about by the pandemic by providing us food at a time when there was nothing left in the market,” Yamamoto recalled.


Pangasinense farmers to earn extra income from urban vegetable garden

URDANETA CITY, Pangasinan — The Department of Agrarian Reform is in full swing preparing for the upcoming opening of an urban vegetable garden that will provide additional income for agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) and other farmers belonging to the marginalized sector in the province.

DAR-Ilocos Region Assistant Regional Director Maria Anna Francisco said that under the “Buhay sa Gulay” project, the department found a generous private donor who donated land in the central business district of Urdaneta that will serve as a vegetable garden to be harvested, sold, and reproduced by beneficiaries. The project aims to provide additional income to the urban poor and help with food security in highly urbanized areas.

“This project was conceived by our Secretary, Bro. John Castriciones as a social responsibility of DAR to provide adequate supply of vegetables to urban dwellers especially in this time of the pandemic,” Francisco said.

In the lot provided by Clemente Arboleda, Sr., DAR is expected to build the very first “Buhay sa Gulay” site in Pangasinan. The DAR’s buy-in session with the Department of Agriculture-Provincial Research and Experiment Center (DA-PREC) and Urdaneta City LGU discussed how to implement the program in the province.

“Cash crops” or fast-growing vegetables such as upland spinach and pechay are planned to be planted in the urban vegetable garden. Because these types of crops are central to vegetable life, it has been integrated into another project of the department, the Farm Business School (FBS), which teaches farmers and ARBs how to increase farm income by group marketing and its proper management.

The local government units (LGUs) of the current FBS sites in Pangasinan also participated in the buy-in session which are also set to have their respective urban vegetable gardens for “Buhay sa Gulay” in Alcala, and Bautista.

The LGU of Urdaneta City promised to provide seeds for the vegetables to be planted, while DA-PREC will respond to capacity development training and other technical needs of the prospective beneficiaries. The DAR will oversee the entirety of “Buhay sa Gulay.”

It will be recalled that Tondo, Manila is the pilot location of the “Buhay sa Gulay” project nationwide, where the beneficiaries harvested and sold more than 600 kilos of vegetables worth P19,000.00 in just two hours.


Surigao del Sur farmers receive farm equipment, agri-inputs from DAR

To help farmers cope with the effects of climate change, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Surigao del Sur provided farmer-members of the San Roque United Crop and Livestock Farmers Association in Bislig City one unit hand tractor and agri-inputs.

DAR Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer II Leoncio C. Bautista, Jr. said the equipment is a big help to the farmers, “because it is mechanized, it will make their work easy and would speed up the preparation of the land for planting.”

The tractor and agri-inputs were given under the Climate Resilient Farm Productivity Support Project (CRFPSP) of the DAR.

“CRFPS is one of the support programs of the DAR in addressing food insufficiency caused by climate change. Under this project, the Department responds to the needs of the farmers especially in these hard times of the pandemic,” Bautista said.

The San Roque United Crop and Livestock Farmers Association is a group of farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries engaged in rice and vegetable farming.

DAR Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Victor L. Canda II said “despite the pandemic and the challenge of weather conditions, the Department remains committed to help improve the income of farmers’ organizations in the province.”

According to Chief Agrarian Reform Program Officer Restituto Marilla, the DAR also extended farm support to the association amounting to P183,000.00.

“Forty-six (46) farmers will benefit from this fund which they will use to augment their farming expenses,” Marilla said.

The DAR also provided the farm association with sacks of fertilizers, insecticides, and seeds.

Chairperson of the San Roque United Crop and Livestock Farmers Association Juanito Borja said that the provision from DAR is an answered prayer.

“We are thankful to DAR for giving this farm machinery and agri-inputs, this is a great help to increase income to our organization,” said Borja.

CRFPS is a major program of DAR focused on extending assistance to calamity prone areas within the agrarian reform community (ARC).