Sunday, June 17, 2018

IPs Cares for the Environment the SCoPSA Way

“Nature is our way of life. This is our ancestral home.”

This is how Datu Bawang, tribal chieftain of Higaonon tribe regard their tribal community in a mountainous area of Brgy. Lawan-Lawan, Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte.

“Aside from picking wild fruits, our primary means of livelihood is farming,” says Datu Bawang or Eddie Ampiyawan on his real name.

Datu Bawang, chairperson of the Lekda Higaonon Farmers Producers Cooperative (LeHFaPCo) with 30 members said that their practice in farming was to clear a piece of land in hilly areas, plant corn, harvest then leave the area and look for another area to cultivate crops.

In the process, hilly areas left barren and in danger of a landslide. But their traditional way of farming had ended after embracing a project of the Department of Agriculture that somehow changed their outlook towards the environment.

Dubbed as Sustainable Corn Production for Sustainable Agriculture (SCoPSA), a project introduced to the community in 2017 through the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM).

Prior to the implementation of SCoPSA in a particular site, it should pass the criteria such as accessible and connected to nearest farm-to-market roads; visible to other farmer as a show window of soil and water conservation technologies in the locality; free from any land tenure problems; among others.

After which, soil conservation development plan will be mapped out and corresponding technical training will be conducted for the involved stakeholders including the farmer –cooperator in preparation for the actual establishment of the farm.

The project aims to enhance productivity level of corn farmers through the promotion of a sustainable land use management that will enhance agricultural livelihood and restore ecological balance in sloping areas of the country cultivated with corn.

Technologies  demonstrated  in  the  farm is focused  on  soil  erosion  control  and  gully stabilization coupled with soil fertility improvement, such as contouring, buffer cropping system, crop rotation, among others.

“Never in our imagination could those abandoned hilly areas still be utilized again as a source of our livelihood. Nowadays, no need for us to leave and look for new a area to be cultivated,” Datu Bawang said.

“SCoPSA teaches us the value of a piece of land, which could sustainably, provides us food and means of our livelihood,” he added.
Appreciating the benefits of the program, 3 hectares had been initially developed in SCoPSA way, and currently, it has increased to 15 hectares.

Through the Bayanihan spirit among coop members, the area had been planted with corn, banana, coffee, mangosten, durian, and pineapple, wherein the planting materials had been given from the Department of Agriculture with support from the provincial government of Agusan del Norte.

“We already harvested 40 sacks of corn, so it helps us for our food,” Datu Bawang said.

Provincial Agriculture Office of Agusan del Norte provided technical support to the tribe especially on pest monitoring to ensure a good harvest.

“To help our IP brothers, the provincial government trained and provided an allowance to two tribe member as para-technician,” said Oscar Tuyor, provincial corn coordinator.

Soon farmers in Lawan-lawan, some 46 kilometers from Buenavista Poblacion, will experience ease in transporting agricultural products as an on-going construction of a national highway going to Bukidnon, traversed in the area.

In Caraga Region, 3 areas had been identified as SCoPSA sites since last year including Brgy. Malapong in Buenavista, Brgy. Culit in Nasipit and Brgy. Lawan-Lawan in Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte.  Additional areas are still under validation. (Aurelius P. Arais/DA Caraga)


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Aggie Chief Launches Easy Access Loan Program for the Farmers

The government is beefing-up its effort to alleviate the economic conditions of the farmers and fisherfolks in the countryside.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol launched a nationwide credit program for the farmers and fisherfolks dubbed as Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) Program.

The launching ceremony was held at Malimono, Surigao del Norte some 32 kilometers away from Surigao City on June 26, 2017.

Through PLEA, marginal and small rural farmers and fisherfolks in the area can loan an amount of up to P50,000.00 with no collateral.

Borrowers can pay the loaned amount from 2 to 10 years depending on the commodity or activity with only 6% per annum or 0.5% per month interest rate.

During the launching ceremony Secretary Piñol awarded to Malimono Multi-Purpose Cooperative an amount of P15 million as lending conduits where borrowers can access the said loan program.

“Our farmers have 3 basic needs which is technology, financing and marketing, and PLEA is one of the answers to their financial needs,” Piñol said.

The loaned amount is intended to finance any agricultural or fishery production activities covered with insurance through the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC).

However beforehand a farmer and fisherfolk could access the loan, they shall be enrolled in the Juan Magsasaka’t Mangingisda Database System and issued with an intervention card.

Prior to the launching in Malimono, DA Central Office through the Information and Communications Technology Services (DA-ICTS) conducted a data gathering activities through an interview and geo-tagging the farmers and fisherfolks to identify the location of their farms and fishing grounds.

“The reason why farmers are hesitant to lend money from the banks is due to numerous documents needed, that is why we simplified the process, once you are registered in our database system and issued with Juan Magsasaka’t Mangingisda Card you are now eligible for the loan program,” Piñol explained.

PLEA with funding support of up to P20 Billion through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) is targeting around 2 million families across the country. (Aurelius P. Arais/DA Caraga)