By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The income of Zamboanga Sibugay farmers is expected to increase after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) turned over P1.2-million worth of farm machinery to the agrarian reform communities (ARC) in the province.
“Our aim in providing these machines is to improve the rubber production of farmers by enabling them to have sufficient production, thereby increasing their income,” DAR Secretary John Castriciones said.
The equipment turned over included 37 units of grass cutters, seven fogging machines, and seven augers or drilling devices.
These were distributed to the Salipyasin ARC cluster which covers the municipalities of Tungawan, R.T. Lim, Ipil, Titay, Naga and Kabalasan.
The Salipyasin ARC cluster is an agrarian area with rubber as its primary crop.
Castriciones said the farm machines were purchased and distributed to the ARC cluster through the DAR’s Project Convergence on Value Chain Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment (Project ConVERGE).
It is aimed at improving rubber farm production in agrarian reform communities.
“Project ConVERGE would help not only our agrarian reform beneficiaries residing in the ARC cluster, but also those farmers in the surrounding area,” Castriciones said.
According to DAR project coordinator for ConVERGE Tony Teves, farmers in the ARC cluster and those in the surrounding area numbers around 2,900 and would greatly benefit from the Project ConVERGE through the provision of the farms machines and the increase in employment opportunities.
“Mainly, the farm machines would be used in producing rubber crumbs needed by exporters and tire manufacturers,” Teves said.
“And with sufficient production of rubber crumbs, our farmers’ products will also fetch good market prices, thus, increasing their productivity and income. This project will not only provide employment for farmer-residents, this would also spur the growth of related industries here,” he added.
Zamboanga Sibugay is the leading rubber producing province in the Philippines, with an average annual production volume of about 77,812 metric tons (MT) of dry rubber in 2004 and 80,416 MT in 2005. It surpassed North Cotabato, formerly ranked first, which produced a volume of 76,607 MT in 2004 and 77,459 MT in 2005.