ARB organizations in NegOcc urged to diversify from sugar

Erwin P. Nicavera

AGRARIAN reform beneficiary (ARB) organizations in Negros Occidental were urged to diversify, or shift to other crops, amid pressing challenges hounding the sugar industry, including lower prices of sugar.

Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer I Milagros Flores Tuesday, November 14, said that sugarcane has a maturity period of 12 months thus, despite the low prices in the market it has to be harvested.

She said ARB organizations are vulnerable to these aspects of the industry and market forces, especially on the price movement.

“If these industry and market forces are beyond our control, what we do is encourage our agrarian farmer-beneficiaries to work on factors that can be controlled,” Flores said, adding that “these are good production technology like diversification to increase yield with lower cost.”

Diversification, which is also being pushed by the Department of Agriculture (DA), is the allocation of other areas of the farm for other high-value crops like vegetables and fruits.

For Negros Occidental, where selling and leasing of lands distributed through Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) is a concern, diversification is another mitigating measure of the agency.

Flores said ARB organizations are urged to venture into diversification instead of selling or subjecting their lands to “ariendo” system.

The DAR is also banking on forming cooperatives and organizations into federation to further promote diversification in the province, she said.

“The federation will facilitate the marketing support that will encourage ARB organizations to venture into other crops aside from sugarcane,” Flores added.