June 14, 2024

The Department of Agriculture-Cordillera is encouraging farmers and fisherfolks to unite as one to avail more benefits from government agencies and private entities.

DA-CAR Technical Director for Operations Danilo Daguio said the various farmer associations are formed together in one cluster so that the cluster would benefit especially from big projects.

“This goes hand-in-hand with consolidation, so that the farmers could be capacitated not only as a producer but to become entrepreneurs as well,” Daguio said.

He said clustering and consolidation allows for smaller farmers to benefit also.

“The cluster will gather all the products then they will be the one to sell it at one time,” he said. 

Dick Evasco of the Tabano Omang Livelihood Project Organization (TOLPO) from Atok, Benguet said the clustering helps other small farmer-members to progress from farming.

Evasco, a livestock and coffee farmer, said their group before had 36 members but now it has grown to 162 members.

“Now, other farmers could see the interventions that we receive from various agencies as a group, so some would want to become a member of our organization,” he said.  

Evasco said their group was a beneficiary of the P5.5-million Integrated National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion (Inspire) program last year. Most of their members who are hog raisers were affected by the African swine fever.   

Sagubo Multipurpose Cooperative chairperson Danny Eke said aside from their members, their group is also buying products from the small farmers who are non-coop members in the community in Kapangan, Benguet. 

“We buy their products and we transport them to the city to be sold, that’s how we help them,” Eke said.

DA-CAR Director Jennilyn Dawayan said this has been a long-time program of the agency since the land area of the region is small as compared to other regions.

Aside from consolidation of various farmers, collaboration between farmers’ groups is also being encouraged.

“That’s the essence of the idea of clustering. We are not only looking at the individual joining the group but even the groups collaborating with one another. We encourage our clusters to become customers of one another,” Dawayan said. 

She cited an example of the farmers group from Apayao getting ready to supply sacks of rice to semi-temperate vegetable farmers in Benguet and vice versa. 

The latest Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture data of farmers and fisherfolks in the region shows there are 171,937 registered individual farmers; 71,159 farm workers; 28,058 fisherfolks; and 2,942 youth who are engaged in agriculture with a total of 274,096 registered individuals belonging to the agriculture sector in the Cordillera. – Ofelia C. Empian