Federation of agrarian reform coops pushed

CADIZ CITY -- The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Negros Occidental-North is pushing for the creation of a federation of agrarian reform cooperatives for the entire province as a measure to mitigate the possible adverse effects of Asean integration among farmer-beneficiaries.

Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer I Milaglores Flores, at the sidelines of the launching of the Federation of Agrarian Reform Cooperatives in North Negros (FARBCONN) at Barangay Caduha-an here Tuesday, said the economic integration has brought challenges to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs).

She said that under Asean integration, agrarian reform farmer-beneficiaries are constantly challenged to develop their products and make them sustainable.

“Though the Asean integration is an opportunity also for us to work together, we are more challenged to further develop our agrarian reform cooperatives to become more competitive and at par with those in other countries,” Flores added.

FARBCONN, the first federation of agrarian reform cooperatives formed in the province covering only the northern areas, has registered with Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) in May last year.

It is comprised of 23 member-agrarian reform cooperatives comprised of about 1,100 ARBs with a total area of about 1,000 hectares from Bacolod City to San Carlos City.

Among its affiliates include the Dalayapan Agrarian Reform Cooperative, the largest plantation-based organization with 251-hectare land at upper portion of Barangay Caduha-an, and Pasto Agrarian Reform Cooperative in the former landholding of Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. at Barangay Magticol in Toboso town.

Flores said the member-agrarian reform cooperatives were the ones pushing for the creation of the federation mainly for stronger collaboration and bargaining of their interests, especially of small farmers in the agrarian reform sector.

She added that the federation initially planned to develop a training center site providing members the training needs required by the CDA and other capacity development for the affiliates.

“The center will also serve as a marketing support of the federation for its primary cooperative-affiliates as after the launching they are planning to hold a Market Day every Tuesday,” Flores said, adding that “through these collective efforts, we are optimistic to boost our ARBs.”

Themed “Pag-federate ng mga Agrarian Reform Cooperatives: Kahandaan sa Asean Economic Integration at iba pang Pandaigdigang Isyu sa Agrikultura at Ekonomiya sa mga Maliliit na Magsasaka,” the launching was attended by DAR, provincial, city and barangay officials, and officers and members of the federation.

Flores said the DAR is providing institutional support to federations mainly to strengthen them while primary cooperatives are given direct support.

“The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program has been the most-challenged program of our government. However, best efforts must be employed so that ARBs do not remain poor and vulnerable even after they are given land titles,” she added. (EPN with reports from PNA)