LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – To further boost the farmers’ production on high value crops, the Department of Agriculture–Cordillera (DA-CAR) in collaboration with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) provided a total of PhP2.4M worth of agricultural inputs to beneficiaries in Madaymen, Kibungan, Benguet, and in Guinaoang, Mankayan, Benguet on December 18, 2023.
The Osdong Cagam-is Pakpakitan Multipurpose Cooperative in Madaymen, Kibungan received 55 cans and 260 packs of vegetable seeds, and 354 bags of fertilizers, amounting to PhP 1.3M. Meanwhile, the Ambabag-Sinakay Farmers Organization in Guinaoang, Mankayan was given 3 units of square tanks and 464 bags of fertilizer, totaling Php1.1M. The interventions are under the Sustainability and Inclusive Peace and Transformation (SIPAT) Project: Upgrading of Vegetable Production, and Livelihood on High Value Crops Production, respectively.
Funded by OPAPRU with DA-CAR as the implementing unit, the SIPAT Project was specifically created for the Cordillera Region in an aim to provide sustainable livelihood opportunities for the members of Cordillera Bodong Administration–Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA) and communities who suffered from years of armed conflict.
In his message, OPAPRU consultant Cameron P. Odsey underscored the importance of watershed in sustaining the agriculture in the regions. Accordingly, the need to balance the use of water from the watershed for agricultural use is important to sustain both.
He also emphasized two salient points in sustaining agriculture in the region and as the major source of highland vegetables: the importance of obtaining good agricultural practice (GAP) certification, and strengthening of farmer cooperatives.
He said that GAP certification is an advantage for market competition and a defense against smuggling, as customers will always prefer safe and quality produce. Hence, he encouraged the beneficiaries to obtain their GAP certification, and to further strengthen their cooperatives as this is not only for the benefit of having an easier access to government interventions, but this will also be of use for the future transference of the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center to the federation of farmer cooperatives and associations.
“Use the interventions you received accordingly for the prosperity of your coops, I also hope that you will continue your best practices so that you will receive more blessings in the future,” Odsey said.
Further, another OPAPRU consultant Thomas Killip briefly divulged the history of the Mt. Data Peace Accord and the SIPAT project. Accordingly, after the issues in the Cordillera were finally addressed, the armed group led by Fr. Conrado Balweg heeded a call of peace and finally signed the Mt. Data Peace Accord during Cory Aquino’s administration in 1986. To address the aftermath of the armed conflict, several projects were created.
In 2020, OPAPRU implemented a Five-year Normalization Program, in which 232 CBA-CPLA communities were listed as beneficiaries, which includes the barangays of Guinaoang, Mankayan and Madaymen, Kibungan under the SIPAT Project, which was launched in 2021.
Through a pledge, the beneficiaries and witnesses also committed to sustain the program not only for themselves but as well as for the future generations of farmers. By CEWaytan