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P2.5-B income eyed from Leyte’s agri program
« on: June 03, 2018, 07:03:34 AM »
P2.5-B income eyed from Leyte’s agri program
By Sarwell Meniano  May 21, 2018, 8:14 pm

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Leyte provincial government is eyeing an annual PHP2.5 billion income from compact farming in 250 villages tagged as priority areas in the production of high value crops.

Citing experiences from pilot areas, Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said a farmers’ organization in a village could earn up to PHP10 million for applying modern farming technologies.

“Our target is to assist farmers’ groups in 250 villages. Through proper intervention, each village will generate an average of PHP10 million a year, or a total of PHP2.5 billion. This is really a big help to our local economy,” Petilla said in an interview Monday.

As of end-April, the initiative has covered 172 villages all over the province. Priority areas are those with high poverty incidence and areas known to be former hotbeds of the New People’s Army.

The program, officially dubbed as More Income in the Countryside (MIC) compact farming for high-value vegetables and fruit crops, also covers areas with organized group of women and persons with disabilities.

Petilla said the program was conceptualized in the province seven years ago to raise the income of poor farmers, ensure stable local supply of high value crops, link farmers with institutional buyers, increase school participation rate, and curb malnutrition among children.

“This is really inclusive growth since the one directly benefiting are poor farmers in rural communities. You will notice that there are lots of new businesses in Leyte because of the increased purchasing power of people,” he added.

Poverty incidence among families in Leyte went down to 23.6 percent in 2015 from 31.4 percent in 2012.

Leyte ranked second lowest in poverty incidence after Biliran province, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Since the program’s launch in 2011, enrolled villages in the province have experienced dramatic economic development from major improvements of infrastructure and increase in food production.

The most successful is Villaconzoilo, an upland village seven kilometers away from the town center of Jaro, Leyte.

Aside from being the most impoverished area in the province in the past, the village was also affected by insurgency.

“The village has consistently achieved zero malnutrition rate and zero crime incidence over the past years,” the governor noted.

From producing high-value vegetables with a start-up capital of PHP1,800 from members’ contributions, the village evolved into a top farm-tourism destination in the province.

The organization managed to raise PHP20 million in assets with more than PHP4 million cash in the bank, and cultivates a 20-hectare farmland.

The farm produces livestock products, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, cauliflowers, radish, asparagus, onions and strawberries, supplying groceries and hotels in the province.

The farm is also identified by the Agriculture Training Institute as learning site and school for practical and organic agriculture.

“There are lots of development activities in Villaconzoilo. They planted first and along the process, we saw the need to pave the road and build bridges to help farmers bring products to the market. This is what to happen in other rural areas,” Petilla added.

Leyte comprises 40 towns and three cities with a population of 1.72 million. The province has 332,018 hectares of farmlands devoted to cultivation of rice, corn root crops, vegetables, fruits, coconut, and sugarcane. (With reports from Princess Rosette Cabonegro & Chanda Mae Dialino, OJTs/PNA)