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A new livelihood venture for farmers in Compostela

August 10, 2019 - Saturday 5:08 PM by Kenneth Paul Senarillos

Article Banner Image QUALITY ASSURANCE. A worker carefully assesses the quality of cavendish banana before they are forwarded to the packing line. A new initiative has been launched by Sumifru to provide sustainable livelihood programs to part-time and unemployed farmers of Compostela.

COMPOSTELA, Compostela Valley Province -- The Municipality of Compostela is blessed with fertile land. Since the 1970s, the agricultural potential of this town has attracted several investors, especially banana plantations. These companies provide employment to the people of the community.

Currently, the biggest operating banana plantation company in the municipality is Sumifru Philippines. The company is engaged in producing and exporting Cavendish Banana through the help of its more than 3000 workers in the Municipality of Compostela alone.  

Tinuod man gyud na na kung wala ang saging sa Compostela, ang Compostela ghost town,” said Bebot Abrea, the President of Compostela Growers Federation.

(It is true that if there are no banana plantations in Compostela, it would have been like a ghost town.)

During the 71st Araw ng Compostela Celebration last August 1, the LGU in collaboration with Sumifru Philippines launched a new initiative: the “Compostela Tulong Pangkabuhayan” project.

Officials said the partnership aims to provide sustainable livelihood programs to part-time and unemployed farmers of Compostela, especially to the 450 former Sumifru workers.

“We have to develop other areas for Compostela economy to flourish,” said Paul Cuyegkeng, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Sumifru Philippines.

“Today, the community is starting a program. The program calls for raising fresh vegetables, raising corn, raising swine, and it teaches how to make shirts. These are new industries that I think, if Compostela develops, Compostela will continue to flourish,” Cuyegkeng added.

The LGU and Sumifru earmarked P200, 000 for the initial budget of the program which aims to provide a holistic approach in livelihood development for its beneficiaries.

The program also utilizes several government agencies such as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for the skills training of the beneficiaries, Department of Agriculture (DA) for supplying plant and animal farming materials, Land Bank of the Philippines for enabling a financial loan assistance option, Department of Labor and Employment for donating sewing machine equipment, and the LGU together with the private sector for the marketing of their products in the future. 

The first batch of beneficiaries composed of 20 farmers attended the launching ceremony at Coco’s Hotel in Compostela. LGU officials, headed by Compostela Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy, welcomed the initiative and assured the beneficiaries with his office’s help and guidance.

Ato’ng dawaton ni with an open heart and open mind na diri magsugod ang maayong relasyon nato sa matag-usa. Ako kamong hatagan ug tutok aron mas mapalig-on pa nato ang atoang grupo dinhi sa Compostela,” Uy said.

(Let us accept this with an open heart and open mind. This should be the start of our good relationship with one another. I will focus on you for us to strengthen our ties here in Compostela.)

The beneficiaries are encouraged to avail themselves of the four livelihood opportunities one at a time. The pioneer batch selected swine farming as their priority. On the part of the first beneficiaries, all they need to do is to set up their own swine cages, officials said. If implemented, the program would give each of the first 20 beneficiaries with their respective piglet to farm including food, medicine, and proper hog raising training assistance.

Jonathan Cabriana, 29, is one of the first batch of the Compostela Tulong Pangkabuhayan beneficiaries. He has been struggling to find a full time job since October 2018.

Ako gani, isa lang gani akong anak pero gapait ko uy. Extra na lang gyud ta ug harvest kay wala man tay laing paingnan,” he said.

(I only have one child but life has been very hard for us still. I can only have a job during the harvest season because I have nowhere else to go.)

Jonathan could not also rely on his wife’s meager honorarium of P700 a month as a barangay worker to support their family.

Nagmug-na sila karon ug pangkabuhayan sa mga walay mga trabaho. Dako gyud kaayo’g ikatabang sa amoang income,” he said.

(They initiated a livelihood program for the unemployed. It would greatly help us in increasing our income.)  

If the first batch is successful in reproducing the swine, each of its members can keep half of the animal’s offspring while the other half will be donated back to the program. The donations will then be given to the second batch of beneficiaries.

The livelihood program will first consolidate all the needs and concerns of the beneficiaries before proceeding to the production part of the project. The consolidation phase will start in the first week of August 2019.