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DAR pili, a meat processing factory in Albay, benefits farmers.

LEGAZPI CITY, PHILIPPINES – The Department of Agrarian Reform in Bicol (DAR-5) has been assisting small farmer cooperatives in distant areas of Albay province in growing their businesses by providing them with financial services and crop production assistance.

The Quipia Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Cooperative (QARBC), which has 121 farmer-members in Cabraran Grande, a remote highland barangay in Jovellar town that was recently granted a pili nut and meat processing factory, is one of the beneficiaries of DAR interventions.

QARBC requested assistance from DAR-5 through the Agrarian Production Credit Program (APCP) in financing their crop production project and extending to additional businesses, according to Gerard Buensalida, DAR-5 spokesperson.

“DAR built the processing center for PHP570,000 through the Village Level Farm Focused Enterprise Development (VLFED) project, and the co-op was able to fund the building of their machinery shed for PHP150,000 through earnings from their microfinance program, and contributed PHP80,000 as their counterpart for the pili and meat processing center,” he said.

The co-op now operates a farm input dealership and leases out post-harvest equipment such as hand tractors, threshers, mechanical transplanters, and reapers.

According to Buensalida, QARBC members are receiving continual education through the VFLED project, which includes advanced technical skills and capacity-building training provided by the DAR in order to attain self-reliance and market competitiveness.

“We’re a long way out of town, yet DAR’s services can still reach us.” In a statement, Susan M. Requiero, QARBC’s interim general manager, stated, “We are glad that we can contribute to our community, provide jobs, and assist better the lives of our farmer-members.”

“Until now, DAR has provided us with moral and other support programs in order for us to do all of this. They never fail to provide us with sound advice when it comes to running our company. “It’s because of their support that we’re able to keep going,” she continued.

Farmers are also benefiting from a convergence of support services supplied by various agrarian reform implementing agencies, donor communities, local government units, and non-governmental organizations, according to Buensalida.

Skills and livelihood training, credit, health, and well-being information and technology transfer, irrigation, multipurpose structures, food processing centers with equipment and instruments, and farm machinery are some of the items on the list.

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