Naval, Biliran-Being one of the poorest provinces in the country, agrarian reform communities (ARCs) in Biliran continues to receive support from the Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Development Program-Sustainable Integrated Coconut Area Development (AREDP-SICAD) as part of the numerous assistances extended by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to spur growth in the countryside.
Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman said that DAR partnered with local-based non-government organizations, civil society organizations and people’s organizations to provide more support to coconut farmers.
“We want to improve the coconut industry by introducing innovations and appropriate interventions to increase coconut production and develop high value-adding enterprises which would eventually establish market linkages locally and internationally,” Pangandaman added.
The federation of ARC cooperatives in this province received a shredding machine worth P70,000 for the farmers’ bio-organic fertilizer production.
The machine was fabricated by the Visayas State University (VSU) and was jointly funded under the PCA-Coconut Genetic Network and the AREDP-SICAD, was accompanied by a rice hull carbonizer.
In 2009, AREDP-SICAD released some P287, 000 for the copra trading, bio-organic fertilizer production and banana production activities of the federation.
Next month, the federation will receive equipment such as decorticating, twining and combing machines from the Philippine Exports, Inc. for the farmers’ coco coir and geo-textile production project.
Sam Helerra of the Philippine Export, Inc. assured the federation of technical assistance in their business operations and marketing of their products.
“With the combined assistance from us [Philippine Export, Inc], the DAR and other non-government organizations, the coconut industry will help boost the economic growth of Biliran,” Helerra said.
AREDP-SICAD was introduced in Biliran in 2006 and covers six ARCs in the municipalities of Biliran, Almeria, Cabucgayan and Caibiran. The program benefits some 1,500 ARBs.
AREDP National Director Dominador Andres said that the program’s main objective is to transform small coconut farmers, particularly the agrarian beneficiaries, from mere agricultural producers into agri-business entrepreneurs by engaging them in coconut enterprises like geotextile, cocopeat, charcoal and copra products.
“With the outpouring support extended by DAR to our coco farmers, their household income is sure to increase as the coconut industry in this island-province is seen in our studies to boom in the near future,” said Andres.