157th farm­ers’ train­ing pro­gram in Di­nalupi­han, Bataan

Agriculture - - Contents -

DI­NALUPI­HAN, BATAAN – Di­nalupi­han has 46 barangays with a pop­u­la­tion of 106,371 as of 2015 in a to­tal land area of 35.72 square miles. Each Fri­day since Fe­bru­ary, 216 farmer­ben­e­fi­cia­ries leave their far-away up­land barangays to toil and nur­ture their plants us­ing the green­house farm­ing tech­nol­ogy taught them by Harbest Agribusi­ness Inc., then learn new busi­ness and fi­nan­cial skills un­der Banco de Oro Foun­da­tion and its ru­ral bank, One Network.

Part of the train­ing was or­ga­niz­ing them into dy­namic groups and em­power them into pro­duc­tive earn­ing units to en­able them to even­tu­ally sell their crops in the lo­cal mar­kets as well as to the sup­pli­ers of the SM Group’s re­tail chains. The pro­gram saw the par­tic­i­pa­tion of im­por­tant gov­ern­ment agen­cies like the De­part­ments of Agri­cul­ture, Trade and In­dus­try, and So­cial Wel­fare and De­vel­op­ment, but for the most part, it was led by Di­nalupi­han Mayor Gila Gar­cia, who vowed to pro­vide each pro­duc­tion group with cap­i­tal of R100,000 to sus­tain the pro­gram and help the prov­ince at­tain its goal of be­ing the mod­ern agropo­lis of Cen­tral Lu­zon by 2022.

In­dige­nous tribal mem­bers were among those ‘grad­u­at­ing farm­ers’ in the SM Foun­da­tion Inc.’s 157th Ka­ba­likat sa Kabuhayan train­ing pro­gram that held its har­vest fes­ti­val re­cently. The dark-skinned Ae­tas of the high­lands were among the hap­pi­est of the har­vesters as they learned new farm­ing tech­nolo­gies and skills that would oth­er­wise have eluded them had they not joined the 157th KSK pro­gram of the Foun­da­tion

Be­fore the KSK pro­gram, the Ae­tas planted veg­eta­bles and root crops only dur­ing the rainy sea­son as the up­lands are devoid of wa­ter sources, ex­cept dur­ing rains. But with the green­house tech­nol­ogy that was taught to them, they were able to plant high value crops like honey­dew melon, bit­ter­gourd, upo, kon­dol, sili, squash, and many more. SMFI Trustee and Cor­po­rate Af­fairs head, Chito Ma­ca­pa­gal said the train­ing pro­gram was unique as it was un­der­taken in a high­land, slop­ing ter­rain in­volv­ing a tribal com­mu­nity and it saw the en­tire SM Group (in­clud­ing SAVEMORE Di­nalupi­han & SM City Olon­gapo) di­rectly be­ing in­volved in the pro­gram. He as­sured the trainees that this was ev­i­dence that even after their grad­u­a­tion, the re­tail chains would be there to as­sist them.

The vis­i­tors got to go through the slopes of the hilly barangay just to get a first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of what it takes to plant in the rugged ter­rain, which for the most part of the year is dry. Yet the farm­ers, who were taught the green­house tech­nol­ogy, were able to have an abun­dant yield of honey­dew melon, bit­ter­gourd, upo, sili, squash and a lot more even with the scorch­ing heat and dry ter­rain.

The par­tic­i­pants them­selves had a grand day har­vest­ing their crops, weighed and sold to vis­i­tors. In the next har­vest sea­son, pro­duce will be sold by their as­so­ci­a­tion (as they will be or­ga­nized into groups) to sell to the lo­cal mar­ket and hope­fully to the bulk sup­pli­ers of the SM Group, which will put up a Buyer’s Sta­tion in mar­kets dur­ing their har­vest sea­son. Sus­tain­abil­ity plans of each as­so­ci­a­tion group were pre­sented hop­ing that the plan would be re­al­ized un­der the guid­ance of the in­volved gov­ern­ment agen­cies and the SM Foun­da­tion group.

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