By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) will be implementing sugarcane block farming (SBF) in Cabagan, Isabela to help increase the farmers’ income, as well as boost the country’s sugarcane production.
It will be implemented in partnership with the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) and the local government of Cabagan.
SBF seeks to improve the productivity of sugarcane farms which are collectively managed by cooperatives.
According to DAR Assistant Regional Director Paramon Furigay, sugarcane would help in increasing the farmers’ income, with the town’s soil being good for plantation based on studies.
Block farming was introduced in the pilot farms in 2012 by the SRA in collaboration with DAR and the Department of Agriculture.
“With the capacity-building, technical assistance, farm planning and farm management support provided by DAR and the SRA, all the pilot block farms showed an increase in productivity that ranged from 7.47 percent to 100 percent,” SBF focal person Aldwin Addun explained.
Citing the implementation of SBF in Negros Island, SRA reported that pilot sugar block farms showed an average increase from 50.78 tons cane per hectare (TC/Ha) to 65.29 TC/Ha, or a 29-percent increase in farm productivity in the crop year 2013-2014 after being enrolled in the block farming program for a year.
The average 29-percent increase in productivity would translate to an estimated average increase of farmers’ income by P39,815 per hectare, at 1.96 LKG/TC and a composite price of P1,400 per LKG-bag of raw sugar, SRA said.
DAR expects to have the same result with the 44 farmer-beneficiaries of the Malasi Lake Producers Cooperative, the local cooperative in Cabagan, which will manage a 35-hectare sugar block farm.
“The project will initially establish a nursery for high-yielding varieties of sugarcane and a techno-demo farm to showcase better technologies in sugarcane production,” Furigay said.
Under the partnership, DAR will award sugar-block farm operators with heavy equipment like tractors for land preparation and dump trucks for hauling.
Meanwhile, SRA will provide technical trainings to farmers to further boost farm production.