MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has entered into an agreement with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to consolidate small sugarcane farms into one whole block that will increase farm productivity by about half.
DAR Secretary Gil De los Reyes said the program, "Sugar Block Farming," will also help rationalize and maximize the use of manpower, limited resources, and equipment by encouraging farm lot owners to work collectively.
"Our agrarian reform beneficiaries, the main participants in this block farming, will work under the supervision of a farm manager hired by the SRA, who will oversee the operations of the whole block farm," De los Reyes said.
He said the new farming concept will be pilot-tested in 16 areas in the sugar-producing provinces of Batangas, Pampanga, Tarlac and Albay in Luzon; Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, Leyte, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental in the Visayas; and Bukidnon and Davao del Sur in Mindanao.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said each block farm will have 30 to 50 hectares and will be managed as one big farm.
"This way, we can efficiently utilize our resources, from manpower, farm inputs to finances, to the hilt," Alcala said.
SRA Administrator Gina Bautista-Martin said that under this scheme, production is estimated to increase from 99 to 147 bags of sugar per hectare, or by 48.5 percent.
"This could be translated to an additional income of P39,000," she said.
Under the agreement, DAR will shoulder the cost of farm tractors and business development services, the DA will oversee the development of irrigation facilities and improvement of farm-to-mill roads and the SRA will take care of the cost of agri-technology and overall management of the block farms.