Bicol Plantations to Receive Grant Money - BM

SORSOGON CITY—Abaca and coconut plantations in the Bicol region have been identified and placed by the Department of Agriculture (DA) under its technology commercialization (TechCom) program which is funded by a grant from the government of Japan.

The grant, according to DA regional executive director Jose Dayao, was under Japan’s 2KR (Kennedy Round)-Grant Assistance for Underprivileged Farmers (GAUF) that aims to support a range of diverse projects that adopt appropriate technology for commercial use.

Last year, the Tokyo approved a ¥300-million grant under 2KR- GAUF for the Philippines to help tillers who can barely meet their families’ basic needs to raise their income and yield per hectare.

The grant equivalent to $2.59 million would benefit small farmers in the country’s poorest provinces, according to Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap.

The project for Bicol’s abaca farms intends to enhance productivity through integrated-farming system dubbed Abakayamanan Program spearheaded by the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) regional office, Dayao said in a statement on Wednesday.

In this undertaking, appropriate high-value crops would be intercropped with abaca so that land productivity is maximized in terms of commercial production of food crops using the latest technology, he said.

Most of the abaca plantations are in Albay, Sorsogon, Catanduanes and Camarines Sur. Their combined production accounts for the biggest supply of abaca fiber for the domestic and international markets.

Farm productivity of many farms, however, significantly dropped because of such plant diseases as the bounchy top and mosaic, which farmers have had to deal within over three decades now.

For coconuts land here, the project dubbed Technology Promotion of Promising Varieties of Peanut under Coco-Based Areas in Sorsogon City would be carried out under the program.

Applying new technology with a view to raising farm output to commercial levels, varieties of high quality peanuts would be grown between coconut trees considering that a large chunk of coconut lands are often idle and teeming with weeds and grass, Dayao said.

These agriculture productivity initiatives in Bicol are among the seven ComTech projects nationwide that have been identified as having the potential to succeed and expand to commercial level that would make significant gains for farmer beneficiaries as revealed by a study commissioned by the DA, Dayao said.

The study was supported by the National Agricultural and Fisheries Council (NAFC) and the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR).

It was done to generate information on how the projects would impact and benefit the stakeholders, and determine the problems future stakeholders should avoid and lessons that would benefit a wider base of beneficiaries.

The other projects that were identified were the technology piloting of probiotic and Saanen-Anglo crossbreed for goat milk production in Bayambang, Pangasinan; commercializing and integrating hybrid squash seed production technology into the cropping system in Santo NiƱo, Cagayan.

Also identified were the Sapinit (wild strawberry) production and utilization project in Dolores, Quezon; commercialization of malunggay leaf meal as feed supplement for dairy cattle in Tiaong, Quezon; and rapid propagation of rubber tree via somatic embryogenesis in North Cotabato.

The projects were identified based on how they could benefit and impact the income of underprivileged farmers, contribute to food security, poverty alleviation and growth of the agriculture sector, Dayao said.

They were picked from the 13 high-potential projects funded through the 2KR-assisted Technology Management for Competitive Agriculture and Fisheries Sector program managed and monitored by the NAFC and BAR in cooperation with the DA regional field units and local government units, he added.

Written by Danny O. Calleja/Correspondent
Wednesday, 10 June 2009 19:22
source: Business Mirror