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DAR expands its ‘ConVerge’ program to assist more NorMin farmers.
CITY OF CAGAYAN DE ORO – The Department of Agrarian Reform in Northern Mindanao (DAR-10) announced Tuesday that its Convergence on Value Chain Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment project has been given a one-year extension (ConVerge).
During a press conference, DAR-10 Director Zoraida Macadindang said, “They (the national government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development or IFAD) gave us until December 2022 to finish (the projects); it was extended because of the (Covid-19) pandemic.”
ConVerge, according to Macadindang, was introduced in 2015 as a poverty-alleviation initiative for farmers in the region who are agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs).
IFAD is funding the program, which also includes the ARBs in Regions 9 and 11, for PHP2.3 billion, she said.
She noted that once the project ended, six sustainability plans were created to continue to help ARBs in the program areas of Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, and Bukidnon provinces.
“I’m glad to tell that the ARBs who are participating in this initiative have boosted their household income to a maximum of 40%,” Macadindang added, noting that this was 10% higher than ConVerge’s initial 30% aim.
The Maraymaray Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative in Don Carlos, Bukidnon, is one of the program’s beneficiaries, having profited from farm-to-market roads. Last year, the group obtained a muscovado sugar processing facility and equipment.
Benefits to Tribes
The majority of ARBs in Bukidnon originate from indigenous people (IP) communities.
Milagros Cambari, a Manobo tribal IP beneficiary, said the newly-built roads are a big assistance in getting their products to the cities.
Madiluz Cabelis, a Talaanding IP member of the same cooperative, added that the project has given them a “voice” in the value-chain business model’s decision-making process.
Meanwhile, Mauro Alcemar, a farmer and manager of the Linamo Agrarian Reform Multipurpose Cooperative in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, noted that thanks to the ConVerge initiative, they were able to withstand the epidemic.
Even if the project ends, Alcemar believes that the next generation of farmers and traders will be able to continue farming because the program has made their business viable. (