Bacolod: ARB group demands gov’t assistance, amidst El Niño woes

(Photo courtesy of FTPN-Ph PR via The Visayan Daily Star)

The FTPN-Philippines, small agrarian reform beneficiaries of the agrarian reform program of the government that federated because they all produce organic and fair trade certified sugarcane products that are used to process mascobado sugar being exported in different parts of the world, majority of which goes to Europe, held a recent press conference held in Bacolod City.

According to the chairperson of the group, Sandrico Cornelio, the lingering drought has reduced their production for the crop year 2022-23 by not less than 40 percent. And while production has reduced, their sugarcane quality has significantly decreased. On top of this, their other crops as their source of food for consumption and other livestock have all been affected as well because of the lack of water.

Cornelio explained that “as ARB’s we only depend on rain for our crops, especially sugarcane where we derive our income. Most do not have irrigation systems to sustain the volume and quality of our sugarcane production.” He also added that they have lost other crops in the absence of rain since the third quarter of 2023. These crops include rice, cassava, sweet potato and vegetables.

The group’s demands include food for work from the government to sustain their production activities. They are now at the production stage of crop year 2023-24, while El Niño continues to persist.

They also asked for cash assistance or subsidy for production, and seeds for other crops, including technical assistance for their food security, because sugarcane is a seasonal crop of 10 months to one year, and this time is off season that they have no other source of income, much less food.

Farm implements and machinery appropriate to their production areas and local communities was also demanded by the group.

They made their few demands to their local governments, including the provincial government and the Sugar Regulatory Administration, where some of them are in partnership with for the block farm project under the Sugar Industry Reform Act.

The group hopes that while the drought continues to create havoc among them and their members, the government and other stakeholders will act fast to address their immediate concerns.

(Source: FTPN-Ph PR via The Visayan Daily Star)

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