By Carmelito Q. Francisco
DAVAO CITY — Mindanao farmers, including agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB), have put together a list of expected government interventions needed to boost the agricultural sector, highlighting high-value crops.
At the first Mindanao Farmers Conference held in Davao City on July 13, members of the Ugnayan ng mga Nagsasariling Lokal na Organisasyon sa Kanayunan–Mindanao (UNORKA-Mindanao) identified the crops for which development assistance is needed as cacao, Cavendish banana, fruits, coconut, oil palm, and rice.
UNORKA-Mindanao, composed of some 3,000 ARBs and farmer cooperatives from all the regions of Mindanao, is among the first beneficiaries of the Technical Assistance for Fairtrade Compliance provided by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) through its Mindanao Collective Trademark (MCT) program.
“Product certification is just one of the many types of assistance that the ARBs need, if there is one thing evident from what we have gathered on the ground, it is the need for inter-agency support to really uplift the quality of lives of these farmers,” said MinDA Officer-in-charge Chairman Nathaniel D. Dalumpines in a statement.
At the end of the conference, organized by UNORKA-Mindanao with support from the European Union, the farmers turned over a list of resolutions to Davao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Alan R. Dujali, Sen. Christopher Lawrence T. Go, and representatives of various agencies.
The resolutions for specific agencies include the following:
• Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agriculture-High Value Crops Development Program (DA-HVCDP), and other agencies; to provide support in order to sustain the cacao industry’s position in the international market for high-quality beans;
• DA and other agencies — to help improve the farm productivity of ARB Cavendish growers;
• Department of Science and Technology, the DA-HVCDP, and other agencies — to mentor fruit farmers in order to advance production in the value chain;
• DTI — to lead and coordinate other programs that will help promote entrepreneurship among ARB coconut growers, including oil palm farmers;
• DA — to consult Unorka–Mindanao in the drafting and implementation of the rice industry roadmap.
Romeo V. Ticon, UNORKA-Mindanao project officer, said the resolutions, which come from the workshop outputs of farmer groups, reflect the “needs of the farmers, their status in life and their hopes.”
Mr. Ticon said they are also aiming to access support windows not just from government but other groups and institutions.
“We know that farmers have problems in production, problems in post-harvest facilities and that these need to be addressed,” he said.
He said during a workshop in Cotabato City, rice farmers claimed that while they can already maximize production, the absence of post-harvest facilities like mechanical driers and warehouses have become the main challenges.
Mr. Ticon also said that issues relating to certificate of landownership awards (CLOA) persist.
“We want DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform) to ensure that ARBs with CLOA are installed in the lands given them,” he said.
UNORKA Secretary-General Leoderic P. Luzenada, meanwhile, said about 30% of the organization’s small farmer members — located in Davao del Norte and the Agusan provinces with a one-hectare allocation each — have yet to receive their CLOA. — with a report from Maya M. Padillo