Cotabato City (September 8, 2015) – The Department of Agrarian Reform of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DAR-ARMM) held on Tuesday, September 8, its first Regional Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) Congress at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex here.
Bearing the theme “Mga kwento ng lupa at agrikultura ay musika ng mapayapa at masagang buhay (Stories of land and agriculture are music of a peaceful and prosperous life),” the congress underscored the accomplishments of the agency under its regional secretary, Amihilda Sangcopan. It also recognized the successful ARBs in the region.
The congress brought together more than 400 ARBs across the region. “Ang highlight ng event na ito ay ang pagpapalabas ng success stories ng ARBs sa ARMM (The success stories of ARBs in the ARMM are the highlights of this event),” Sangcopan said.
One of the successful ARBs recognized was Benjamin Querido, Jr. from Wao, Lanao del Sur. He earns as much as P564,000 annually from his corn and sugarcane farm. He was awarded with 5.36 hectares of land on May 3, 1993 and was able to buy a tractor and hauler truck he is now using.
The region presently has a total of 68,087 ARBs based on the latest record of DAR-ARMM. Ariel Hernandez, DAR-ARMM entrepreneur consultant, presented a 10-year ARMM Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Beneficiaries Development Plan. The plan, he said, will address the problems, issues and needs of ARBs as identified in conferences conducted in the region’s five provinces.
With more than P10.6-billion budget, the plan “is a holistic package of support services for beneficiaries such as infrastructure and agri-enterprise development, business development service and the provision of common service facilities, and scholarships for children of ARBs,” Sangcopan added.
Distribution of 11 common service facilities worth more than P9 million was part of the event. The service facilities included three units of four-wheel drive tractors, three units of shredders, and five units of hand tractors under the Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services, the department’s strategic intervention to retain the awarded lands of the ARBs through production and engagement in agri-based and related enterprises.
Edwin Usman, 45, vice-president of Tongehat Ungus-Ungus Cooperative based in Sibutu, Tawi-Tawi received one unit of Kubota hand tractor. The cooperative also received a power tiller cultivator on June 15 during the 27th anniversary celebration of of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program here.
The Tongehat Ungus-Ungus Cooperative started in 2010 with banana, cassava and chili pepper as main agricultural products. “Malaki ang maitutulong ng mga facilities na ito sa aming cooperative dahil ito talaga ang kailangan namin sa aming pagsasaka (These facilities would help our cooperative a lot since we need these in farming),” Usman said.
Herman Ongkiko, DAR undersecretary for foreign assisted and special projects served as one of the special guests of the event. (Bureau of Public Information)