The Philippines has about 3.5 million coconut farmers and 26% of the total agricultural land is devoted to coconut farming alone.
The industry also contributes an annual average of 5.97% to the country’s gross value added (GVA) and 1.14% to the gross domestic product (GNP).
The Philippine coconut industry is an export-oriented sector.
Coconut regions, though one of the most productive industry, host the largest number of rural poor. Around 60% of farmers and workers under this sector live below the poverty line.
Problems vary from poor farm management practices, natural calamities, land conversion, and pest control and diseases.
Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which devastated several islands in the Visayas in 2013, damaged 15 million coconut trees. This year, a pest outbreak nearly wiped out the coconut trees in Region IV-A.
The massive infestation of the coconut scale insect was first detected in 2010. Pest control measures have been done after its identification, but the insect thrives and infested more than a million coconut trees.
The CSI case
The CSI is more commonly known as cocolisap. It is a common coconut pest. It looks like fish scales and is able to reproduce continuously for a month. They are usually found under coconut leaves.
Local species usually thrive during the dry season and die out during the rainy season.
Early this year, researchers from University of the Philippines Los Baños went to Indonesia to obtain CSI samples and validate the pest’s identity through DNA testing. The results came out positive.
A local species Aspidiotus destructor and another CSI species, Asipidotus rigidus, were identified as another outbreak species.
UPLB has guided the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) on its operation against pests.
The Crop Protection Cluster of the College of Agriculture has spearheaded several research and development (R&D) projects to address the threat since 2010.
The Department of Agriculture Proceso Alcala granted a P2-million research fund for UPLB to conduct research on taxonomy and development of mitigation measures.
UPLB was then able to come up with a method of conducting delimiting survey which helped the PCA to swiftly identify Cocolisap infestations at an early stage while the leaves were still green.
Samples are transported and analyzed at UPLB and results are forwarded to PCA, which sends a quick response team if results prove to be positive.
Mapping the infestation was able to lead to the identification of three zones, mainly outbreak areas where infestations need massive control, non-outbreak areas where infestation is only beginning to occur, and high risk areas.
Saving the coconut industry
The massive treatment of cocolisap-infested areas around Region IV-A started on June 20, 2014.
Simultaneous pruning and trunk injection was done in highly affected provinces of Quezon, Batangas, Cavite and Laguna.
The treatment will last for six months until all infected areas are covered. Dr. Medina says that the pesticide would stay in the coconut’s system for up to 50 days. Beyond that, they can be safely harvested.
Prior to the start of the activity in Sta. Cruz, San Pablo Laguna, a demonstration on pesticide application and farmer’s forum were conducted to clarify protocols.
Farmers were also able to ask questions to understand the process behind the treatment during the forum.
According to Dr. Susan Bacud, an expert in community pest management, the agricultural competitiveness should be stakeholder-oriented as well.
“Technology is very important, but the farmers themselves who will use the technology should also be highlighted,” Bacud said.
Farmers must be prepared in terms of calamities and pest outbreaks. They can be empowered to conduct their own pest management strategies, but must be constantly informed.
Bacud says that an important scheme to control pests is hasty reporting.
Farmers should be able to easily communicate with agriculture technicians and researchers once a pest species is noticed. Reporting is one way to prevent outbreaks and farmers should be able to do that.
Financial analyst and coffee entrepreneur Pierre Yves Cote of Rocky Mountain Coffee, Inc. warned the local coffee industry, “The supply gap represents 100,000 jobs that go away to Vietnam every year. In terms of economic value, the Philippines will give Vietnam P17 billion within 5 years, P28 billion within 10 years, and P75 billion within 20 years. This will make the Philippines’ coffee importers rich, Vietnam people rich, but Filipino farmers will remain poor. Can we allow this to continue to happen?”
200 years ago, the Philippines was once the fourth biggest producer of coffee in the world. Today, the country only produces .012 percent of the demand for coffee worldwide.
What happened to the local coffee industry? There are incoming projects, both government and private sector-funded, that aim to revive the old industry.
The root of the problem lies in the fact that local coffee farmers cannot supply even the local demand for coffee. The country has had to import 85 percent of its coffee from Vietnam.
Government data shows that at least 138 million kilograms worth Php6 billion is imported from Vietnam every year.
One of the leading coffee brands, Kopiko, sources its beans from Indonesia. Local coffee produce has been relegated to niche markets that cater to coffee shops and specialty brands.
The cost of coffee imports have also become cheaper because coffee farmers from other countries such as Brazil and Vietnam are willing to sell their beans already roasted, unlike local farmers who sell their coffee beans raw.
Some would think that it is just plain laziness or lack of initiative, but the truth is that local farmers do not have easy access to coffee-roasting tools that measure up to international standards.
Industrial coffee machines cost around a million pesos on average and are costly to maintain if bought secondhand.
There are low-capacity models but these would not be fast and efficient enough to meet market demand, especially if the Philippines wants to compete in the international coffee market, now lorded over by Brazil.
The Bravura is the cheapest roasting machine available in the market. This locally-made roasting machine costs Php485,000 per unit or around US$11,100.
The old town of Piddigin Ilocos Nortehas started developing an initial 10-hectare Arabica coffee plantation located in one of the coldest mountain ranges in the country.
The DENR has given a grant to the Piddig local government of Php52 million worth of financial assistance for the establishment of a coffee nursery.
The project is expected to produce 2 million coffee seedlings in three years or until 2016.
The DSWD is also involved in the coffee industry revival with its livelihood assistance, worth Php5,000 per family-beneficiary.
It aims to encourage farmers’ family members to produce organic fertilizer through vermiculture needed in sustaining the coffee farm.
Target beneficiaries receive training on how to produce organic fertilizer through a simple process of vermicomposting.
This technology employs worms (African night crawlers) to decompose waste materials, such as household and farm, to produce organic fertilizer for sustainable agriculture.
The vermicomposting technology is now being practiced by many farmers in Ilocos Norte, shying away from costly farming inputs such as commercial fertilizer.
Alongside coffee, high-value crops such as papaya and bananas are being suggested to be intercropped in the coffee plantation.
The unceremonious bypassing of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala by Aquino appointee Francis Pangilinan, himself a former senator, means that government modernization of agricultural industries will slow down.
That includes the coffee industry, which of this moment is still in a vegetative state.
The political maneuvering is being done so as to favor certain cartels that seek to profit from imports, most of them backed by foreign companies engaged in the international coffee market.
Experts say Filipinos consume 138 million kilos of coffee, but the country only produces less than 20 million kilos, or only 14 percent of the coffee that locals consume.
Another alarming fact is that the local demand is increasing while the supply is declining.
According to experts, this supply gap will increase to 200 million by 2020 and 800 million by 2032, if the current trend is to continue.
One solution being proposed is to have a definitive roadmap to restore the coffee industry, combined with political will to confront the cartels.
By Miguel Raymundo
Business cartels always had their way with the government. How the abuse of their control over government hits the consumers again gets public attention on the price hike of garlic.
Garlic, a food ingredient, has not gone scarce in the market. Only that its price has shot up 900 percent from P17.00 to P300.00 per kilo. The conclusion of Senator Cynthia Villar is this is price manipulation.
Everybody is guessing what caused this. Was it a surge in demand for the food ingredient? Did supply decline? If things were normal except for a spike in prices, what gave the courage to traders and the cartel to manipulate the prices?
In a hearing in the Senate called by Sen. Cynthia Villar, government officials and industry leaders admitted the spike in the price of garlic stemmed from price manipulation.
While the garlic price shot up to outrageous level, consumers also suffered price spike in rice, basic food commodity in the country.
Price of well-milled rice shot up by 19 percent from its year ago prices. Commercial rice was selling at minimum of P42.00 per kilo in the market.
The price hike in rice, though, benefitted farmers as farm gate prices of palay went up to P25.00 per kilo.
Food cartels are moving, preparing to control their respective markets, with the garlic and food ingredient group taking the first bold move.
In this country cartels get what they want. They can force the President to reorganize government to accommodate their interests. And this power was again confirmed at the Department of Agriculture where these food cartels dictate their terms of engagement.
A secretary of agriculture is always at the mercy of these cartels. And Secretary Proceso Alcala of the DA is the latest victim of this cartel’s influence in government.
The DA under Alcala was lately chopped and taken away from him were “problematic” agencies like the NFA, PCA, and NIA. These agencies were given to former Senator Francisco Pangilinan, now the country’s food czar.He now sits in PNoy’s official cabinet.
Alcala refused to be dictated by the rice cartel and other food cartels. Instead,he went to the farms and encouraged farmers to plant more. He made it hard for the cartel to operate and contained massive rice smuggling.
Sources in the agriculture sector say Alcala’s vigilance and independence from the rice cartel ended up with savings in tens of billions of pesos in rice importation.
Same sources said, more than savings, Alcala was pushing for higher local production and improved food security. There is no food security in rice and farm product importation. He was pushing for higher income to farmers to encourage local production.
“Smuggling farm product is the cause of slow death of agriculture in the country,” they said.
But those billions of pesos lost by the cartels funded his removal. The strongest lobby to oust a cabinet member supported by media budget in tens of millions of pesos did Alcala in. He lost to the rice cartel lobby and is now a paper tiger in the farmers’ fight against powerful traders.
That the garlic cartel is not bothered a bit by some senators concern over this price manipulation could only mean confidence on their hold on some government officials, some of them in Malacañang.
With the price manipulation earning for these garlic and food ingredient traders over Php25Billion, they can buy everyone and anyone in this government.
By John Paolo Bencito
Agrarian reform and rural development play an essential role in “promoting sustainable development, which includes the realization of human rights, food security, poverty eradication and the strengthening of social justice, on the basis of the democratic rule of law.”[Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), 2003.]
As the clock ticks near for the deadline of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) on June 30, 2014 – much promise has already been given.
As of February 2014 – based on DAR’s own figures, 790,671 hectares of land are yet to be awarded to farmers in the form of Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs), the document that gives farmer-beneficiaries ownership of the land.
More than 206,000 hectares are still not under Notices of Coverage (NOC), the document that catalyzes the process of distribution for that parcel of land.
The snail-paced government action since CARPER was passed inherited CARP’s biggest mishaps – continued resistance from clans with big landholdings, lack of commitment from the national government to provide resources and myriad inefficiencies in lead implementing agencies.
While the promise of land reform has already been given, lack of political will can make such into nightmares.
The DAR’s weak implementation has allowed land grabbers to get away with illegal conversion of irrigated, agricultural land to other uses such as commercial and residential.
Many cases of land grabbing have been reported from all over the country, displacing farmers by bulldozers and demolitions to make way for development projects like subdivisions, resorts, and malls.
Under the CARPER law, it is illegal to convert all irrigated or irrigable agricultural land. Those who wish to do so have to appeal to DAR to exempt the land from agrarian reform coverage.
Loopholes on the law also became disadvantageous to the common farmer as the CARP “allows multinational corporations to maintain their control and operation of vast tracts of agricultural lands through lease, management, grower or service contracts for a period of 25 years and renewable for another 25 years”.
This provision allowed in the past transnational corporations such as Dole and Del Monte to control 220,000 hectares of agricultural lands devoted for export crops.
Also, Sec. 5 states that landowners shall issue the so-called “attestation of landowners” which will certify whether a person is a farm worker or tenant in his landholdings. These loopholes in turn resulted to more landowners to filing more petitions for exemptions before the DAR.
The agriculture sector contributes the least to economic growth, which takes away opportunities for the country’s “poorest majority,” who account for almost a third of the nation’s work force of almost 37 million.
Weak implementation also translates to fact that the agriculture sector contributes only around 11 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This indicates intense poverty that lingers throughout the sector where more people compete over very little production.
Poverty incidence in the nation is highest among fishermen with 41.4 percent, followed by farmers with 36.7 percent according to the National Statistical Coordination Board (2009).
With the CARPER still far from achieving its goals of distributing lands to its farmer-beneficiaries, the President is still pressing the Congress to pass a bill extending the June 30 deadline.
27 years after the Mendiola Massacre, 26 years after the passage of CARP, and 5 years after CARPER – the injustices still remains.
While a lot of words have been said, more farmers in the countryside await a piece of paper bearing their names bringing the recovery—or not—of a long, elusive struggle.
The challenge of CARPER is to remain true to its spirit, and finally bring genuine agrarian reform in the country.
Local Fruit Industry Comes Back Fighting
Even if some sectors of the local fruit industry did not achieve expected production performances for this part of the year, the fruit industry, its investors, and local business owners are hopeful in the midst of rebuilding efforts.
According to the first-quarter agricultural performance report released by the Philippine Statistics Authority, banana production was up 1.86%, with the biggest harvests reported in Davao Region and expansion in Bukidnon, as well as reports of additional trees in Soccsksargen and Caraga and favorable growing conditions in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Mango production from January to March suffered an 0.18% decline after last year’s Typhoon Yolanda damaged trees in Western Visayas, and lower output in Northern Mindanao, SOCCSKSARGEN and Caraga regions due to frequent rains.
Banana production in January-March 2014 was estimated at 2,052.22 thousand metric tons (MT), 1.9 percent more than the 2,014.81 thousand MT level of output in the same period last year.
The production increment was brought about by more bearing hills in Davao Region and big bunches harvested in Zamboanga Peninsula. The expansion of plantation farms in Bukidnon Province in Northern Mindanao; additional area and bearing trees harvested in SOCCSKSARGEN and Caraga Region; and, favorable weather condition in ARMM during the fruiting stage.
Calamansi production in the first quarter of 2014 was 17.45 thousand MT. It dropped by 8.7 percent from last year’s production level of 19.11 thousand MT.
The drop in production was traced to the adverse effects of typhoon Yolanda in MIMAROPA and Eastern Visayas. The late occurrence of flowers caused by prolonged hot weather condition in CALABARZON; and less number of trees harvested due to cutting of senile trees in Cagayan Valley.
MIMAROPA remained the top producer of calamansi during the period, accounting for 18.5 percent of the national output.
Mango production was 160.94 thousand MT for January-March 2014. This was 0.2 percent below the 2013 output of 161.23 thousand MT.
The decline in production was due to the fact that farms have not fully recovered from the adverse effects of typhoon “Yolanda” in Eastern and Western Visayas as well.
The prolonged rain caused by typhoon “Agaton” in Northern Mindanao. There are also less bearing trees in SOCCSKSARGEN and Caraga Region.
This quarter’s production accounted for 20.3 percent of the average annual production for the past five (5) years. The country’s pineapple production during the reference quarter was 573.04 thousand MT., 5.8 percent higher than last year’s 541.87 thousand MT.
The increase in production was contributed by the expansion of corporate farms in Northern Mindanao. The increase in area harvested in SOCCSKSARGEN, Central Luzon and Zamboanga Peninsula, and balanced agro-climatic condition in Bicol Region also contributed to the production.
The top producers were Northern Mindanao, SOCCSKSARGEN and Bicol Region with combined share of 96.1 percent to the national pineapple production.
Despite strong typhoons that ravaged agricultural lands last year, Department of Agriculture Secretary Alcala told about 1,500 farmers that they had produced 18.44 million metric tons of rice, enlisting the Philippines as the fastest growing rice production country in Asia.
Alcala lauded the Central Luzon farmers for helping achieve the highest rice harvest in the Philippine history during the Farmers` Lakbay Palay hosted by the Philippine Rice Research Institute in Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, April 1-4.
The production also made the country 97-percent rice self-sufficient in 2013. Although three-percent short of the 100 percent target, the country, however, registered a 16-percent increase within three years. The country was only 81-percent rice self-sufficient in 2010.
With the rice sector`s performance last year, the agriculture secretary discouraged the public from focusing on the deficit in the 100-percent rice self-sufficiency target.
“We have tried hard. Nawa`y [mapahalagan] natin, lalo na sa mga nasa Manila, ang pagpupunyagi nating mga magsasaka. Hindi ho tayo titigil sa 97 percent. Magpupursige pa din tayo para ang isasaing ni Juan dela Cruz, dito ipupunla, dito itatanim, dito aanihin (May we, especially the city dwellers, value the efforts of the farmers. We’ll not stop at 97 percent. We’ll work harder so that the rice that we’ll serve on our table will be planted and harvested in the country),” Alcala said.
Alcala, who also unveiled the latest rice technologies, urged the farmers to be receptive of new farming practices as this may help them reduce production cost and make the price of rice more competitive in the market.
“We can`t solve problems such as rice smuggling in an instant. We still have a long way to go to stop rice smuggling. As long as our production cost is high, rice smuggling will always be around,” he said in Filipino.
He said that rice smuggling persists in the country because domestic rice prices are uncompetitive to Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam.“Production cost in the Philippines is [about P11 a kilo] while in Vietnam, it`s around P6,” he said.
Alcala said that if farmers can peg production cost even at P8, rice smuggling will be minimized.At present, PhilRice is on its second season of implementing Palayabangan: 10-5 challenge, a nationwide farming competition that aims to produce 10 tons/ha yield at only P5 input cost per kilogram of palay.
The Department of Agrarian Reform today expressed confidence that it will be able to meet its targets of monumenting the lots and installing the beneficiaries of the Hacienda Luisita estate in the next few weeks. Monumenting involves the physical delineation on the ground of the beneficiaries’ CARP-awarded land by placing boundary markers or mujons.DAR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Paruñgao said as of the April 7 report from the DAR provincial office 5,947 farmlots, or 86.32 percent, have already been monumented. He added that out of these monumented lots, 4,478 or 65 percent have farmer beneficiaries already installed.
The DAR is confident that its self-imposed deadline for monumenting the lots and installing the farmer beneficiaries, which it has set for May, will be met unless outside forces obstruct its activities. Paruñgao also said that the DAR has been encouraging and assisting beneficiaries build organizations so that DAR would be more effective and efficient in channelling support service programs and resources of the department. “We are assisting the farmers beneficiaries in making their transition into owner-cultivators”, Paruñgao said, “We are helping them to organize themselves so that they are able to better organize farm production and marketing of their produce.”
He added that these organizations will also make it easier for the farmer beneficiary to access credit because the financial institutions are more inclined to provide loans and financial support to organizations than to individual farmers The provincial office of the DAR has been able to assist farmer beneficiaries create organizations in 8 of the 10 barangays in Hacienda Luisita. Paruñgao likewise said that in addition to helping the famer beneficiaries organize themselves, the DAR has encouraged the voluntary physical grouping of contiguous lots so that scheduling of use of farming machinery such as tractors would be more rational.
Meantime, Paruñgao said that the monumenting of the lots would have gone faster and therefore would have resulted in more farmer beneficiaries being installed had there been no instances of harassment of survey teams and ‘mujons’ being destroyed. He said that 5 persons were apprehended last April 3 while harassing a survey team that was plotting out a lot in the area. These perpetrators, allegedly members of AMBALA, were subsequently released pending the filing of appropriate charges. Paruñgao added that their act of harassment could constitute obstruction of agrarian reform. DAR has speeded up the monumenting of the lots in Hacienda Luisita. They have added survey teams to so that they will be able to install all the beneficiaries before the deadline and in time for the rainy season when farmers usually plant crops. He said that the act of obstructing the implementation of agrarian reform prescribes a penalty of 6 to 12 years imprisonment.
The Department of Agriculture is fully supportive of the ongoing peace efforts for Mindanao, a major highlight of which is the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in Malacañang, on March 27, 2014.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said he is set to present to President Aquino the Department’s proposed initial interventions – including livelihood and infrastructure projects such as farm-to-market roads and small-scale irrigation – under the Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program.
Sajahatra Bangsamoro is President Aquino’s concrete, socio-economic initiative aimed to uplift the health, education, and livelihood conditions of MILF communities.
“May mga programa po kaming nakalaan para sa mga mangingisda at gayundin sa mga magsasaka,” said Secretary Alcala. “Sa pagsuko nila ng kanilang mga armas, kailangan po silang matulungan na isaayos ang kanilang kabuhayan.”
Amounting to P212.9 million, the initial support will cover four regions (Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao and SOCCSKSARGEN) and 10 provinces (Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga Sibugay, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, South Cotabato, Maguindanao, Davao Oriental and North Cotabato).
The date of the presentation to President Aquino has yet to be finalized by the Office of the President, Secretary Alcala said.
The Secretary said he trusts that CAB will help put closure to one of Asia’s bloodiest and longest-running armed conflicts and bring enduring peace in Southern Philippines. In fact, he is encouraged more than ever by the strong commitment of support and cooperation from beneficiaries themselves whom he was able to meet in several engagements leading to today’s signing ceremony.
“Dati ay pinakaka-abalahan nila ay pakikipaglaban, ngayon ang sabi ng mga [nakapulong ko na dating mga MILF commanders]: “Kung gaano kami kasigla sa pakikipaglaban dati ay mas masigla kaming mag-araro ngayon sa aming mga bukirin,” Secretary Alcala said. (Mac Garcia, DA OSEC)
WITH various controversies and anomalies, Philippines agricultural forecast seems to follow a bright rainbow in the sky.
No less than the government’s Department of Agriculture under its chief honcho –Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, has been in the limelight lately, due to several controversies hounding the country’s precious prime staple food –rice.
In fact, just before the ‘forced’ resignation of former Custom’s chief Biazon, rice smuggling was among those that hugged newspaper headlines from Aparri to Jolo, and whereby top accused rice smugglers rocked the confines of our anti-crime agencies via several high-point Senate-led inquiries.
The Philippine Agricultural Journalists Inc. (PAJ), one of the country’s pioneering news associations (now led by the dynamic Philippine Star business editor and my close friend –Roman ‘Sir Manong’ Floresca,) has been at the frontlines of the nation’s agricultural dimensions since the mid-seventies, dwelling on in-depth articles, research, plus innovations and insights on the latest developments of our society’s prime economic-mover in the 21st century.
And while we are dwelling on our favorite subject –rice, did you know that Ilocos Norte has just received its deserving award for being one of the top 12 rice-producing provinces of the country. No less than Ilocos Norte’s hard-working Governor –Imee Marcos received the “2013 National Rice Achievers”(NRA) trophy from DA Sec Alcala, and national rice production coordinator and the DA’s Undersecretary Dante S. Delima. As per media release which appeared in the PS: “other winning provinces includeNueva Ecija, North Cotobato, Nueva Viscaya, Isabela, Pangasinan, Bukidnon, Bulacan , Kalinga, Mindoro Occidental, Laguna and Lanao del Norte. A total of P117.42 million worth of project grants and cash prizes were given out to the awardees which consisted of 12 provinces, 48 municipalities, 10 irrigator associations (IA’s), three small water impounding system associations (SWISAs) and agricultural extension workers (AEWs).
The addendum report stated that “each province received P4-million worth of project grant, while municipalities received P1-million worth of project grants. The IA’s and SWISAs each received P1-million and P500,000 respectively, while AEWs were given P20,000 cash prize each.” Well folks, that says a lot about the ‘strength’ of our rice-producing provinces.
Just wondering how this ‘good news’ would affect the cash registers of some rice-supporting fast-food establishments like Inasal for example, which is by the way, now under the stewardship of globally-strong Filipino-owned firm –Jollibee Group.
And by the way, what have we here on the latest developments concerning the hotly-controversial National Food Authority (NFA) which was at the receiving end of countless accusations vis-a-vis “anomalies and corruption” that required Senate and Congressional inquiry for that matter? In fact, a number of people’s organizations have called for its abolition “citing billions of pesos in debt the government has incurred over the years.”
Latest media reports however has it that no less than the Palace “has stood pat on its position not to abolish the grains procurement agency, saying this will affect millions of Filipino farmers dependent on NFA support price for palay.”
Now we wonder why this present administration is still open to import rice from our neighboring ASEAN brothers, when it has been revealed (as per documented media reportage) that our beloved Philippines has enough rice production to feed our growing millions of Filipinos nationwide. Let us remember, what the Word states: “…and the truth shall set you free.”
And to think that “to date, NFA’s debts are placed at around P150 billion.” Where do we go from here?
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) recently launched the construction of a warehouse facility worth P5.9 million for the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) of Rizal, Cagayan.
The post-harvest facility will consist of a 60-square meter warehouse with a 2,000-cavan capacity, a 48-square meter office, and a 450-square meter solar dryer. DAR Regional Director Marjorie Ayson led the groundbreaking rites of the Malasatco Post-harvest facility project along with Rizal Mayor Joel Ruma, in the agrarian reform community (ARC) of Malaueg, in Rizal town, Cagayan. Ayson said the farmers suffer spoilage of harvested crops due to lack of proper storage facilities. “Our farmers experience losses because most farm family houses don’t have enough space in their lots to properly store their harvested crops. Another major reason is the very long distance of Malaueg ARC to the market center,” said Ayson. According to Ayson, because of the remoteness of Malaueg ARC to the town proper “very few public vehicles ply the long stretch of rocky road. Delivery vehicles for farmers’ produce are also very few and are put on a schedule basis by the farmers to accommodate their transportation needs.” Ayson added that during summer, it takes at least two days for the farmers to traverse the rough roads to bring their produce to the market. It takes them longer days during the rainy season when the roads are deep with thick mud. “By the time they get to the market center the crops are wilted and some are already spoiled. The wilted produce don’t sell as much as fresh ones,” said Ayson. Ayson thanked Mayor Ruma for his support for his farmer-constituents in donating the lot where the storage facility is being constructed. Apart from the storage facility which will be finished by May 23, 2014, the municipality of Rizal was also provided by the DAR with a communal irrigation project in Bgy. Mauanan and a potable water supply in Bgy. Illuru. Malasatco is a farmers’ cooperative where most members are agrarian reform beneficiaries.