April 13, 2024

To further boost farmers’ production on high value crops, the Department of Agriculture- Cordillera in collaboration with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (Opapru) provided P2.4 million worth of agricultural inputs to beneficiaries in Madaymen, Kibungan and in Guinaoang, Mankayan, Benguet.

The Osdong Cagam-is Pakpakitan Multipurpose Cooperative in Kibungan received 55 cans and 260 packs of vegetable seeds, and 354 bags of fertilizers, amounting to P1.3M. The Ambabag-Sinakay Farmers Organization (ASFO) in Mankayan was given three units of square tanks and 464 bags of fertilizer amounting to P1.1M.

The interventions are under the Sustainability and Inclusive Peace and Transformation (Sipat) Project: Upgrading of Vegetable Production, and Livelihood on High Value Crops Production, respectively.

Funded by Opapru with DA-CAR as the implementing unit, the Sipat Project was created for the Cordillera in an aim to provide sustainable livelihood opportunities for members of Cordillera Bodong Administration-Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA) and communities that suffered from years of armed conflict.

In his message, Opapru consultant Cameron P. Odsey underscored the importance of watershed in sustaining the agriculture in the regions.

He said balancing the use of water from the watershed for agricultural use is important to sustain both sectors.

He also emphasized two salient points in sustaining agriculture in the region and as the major source of highland vegetables: the importance of obtaining good agricultural practice (GAP) certification and strengthening of farmer cooperatives.

He said GAP certification is an advantage for market competition and a defense against smuggling, as customers will always prefer safe and quality produce.

He encouraged the beneficiaries to obtain their GAP certification and to strengthen their cooperatives because this is not only for the benefit of having an easier access to government interventions, but can also be used for the future transference of the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center to the federation of farmer cooperatives and associations.

“Use the interventions you received accordingly for the prosperity of your coops, I also hope that you will continue your best practices so that you will receive more blessings in the future,” Odsey said.

Thomas Kilip, also an Opapru consultant briefed the beneficiaries on the Mt. Data Peace Accord and the Sipat project.

He said after the issues in the Cordillera were finally addressed, the armed group led by Fr. Conrado Balweg heeded a call of peace and finally signed the Mt. Data Peace Accord during Cory Aquino’s administration in 1986.

To address the aftermath of the armed conflict, several projects were created.

In 2020, Opapru implemented a five-year Normalization Program, in which 232 CBA-CPLA communities were listed as beneficiaries including barangays of Guinaoang, Mankayan and Madaymen, Kibungan under the Sipat Project. The project was launched in 2021. Through a pledge, the beneficiaries and witnesses also committed to sustain the program not only for themselves but as well as for the future generations of farmers. – C. E. Waytan