Montevista, Compostela Valley -At least 50 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries who are also Typhoon Pablo survivors recently completed the course on Organic Agriculture Production and Farm Tourism NCII from the Natural Farming Institute of ACES Polytechnic College, Panabo City.
Also included in the batch are 71 non-Pantawid family heads and typhoon victims who qualified to participate in the 232-hour vocational-technical course.
“This initiative is our joint undertaking with ACES Polytechnic College, Department of Agriculture and the local government, to help our program recipients be more productive and economically-contributing members of their community,” said Priscilla N. Razon, regional director of the Social Welfare Department (DSWD).
The training aims at generating employment and income for the recipients as well as mobilizing them to cultivate and produce healthy and environment-friendly livestock and crops.
The 121 new graduates are now managing a communal organic business farm here at Barangay Tapia which was designed as a farm tourism destination as well as a production center for healthy food, grown under environment-friendly conditions.
Serving as starter kit for the graduates, the farm land and fish pond was provided by Barangay Tapia and LGU Montevista which will also ensure that the farm is secured from poachers and stray animals.
Further, the LGU shall help supervise the recipients as they engage in farm activities.
DSWD through its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), funded half of the training cost and one cropping cycle as well as farm inputs while technical assistance has been extended by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) of the Department of Agriculture (DA)
ATI-DA will also provide skills training on food processing following the first cropping cycle.
ACES Polytechnic College which covered half of the training cost shall continue to assist and provide farm inputs and technical assistance.
“Our graduates are now engaged in raising organic native chicken, hogs, high-value vegetables and red tilapia,” Director Razon said.
“The farm is situated in sloping area. It is a tourist attraction with a farm theme. With organically-grown farm produce, the farm is expected to yield high market demand from the buying public,” she added.
The farm provides recreation and education opportunities to both young and old. It envisions as well a paid learning tour as one of its revenue-generating activities in the future.
The graduates are divided into seven groups that take care of a daily group assignment where each group has its own task to accomplish.
Following harvest and after sales, the net revenue shall be deducted 25% for labor cost which will be divided among the members while the remaining 75% shall be used to cover the subsequent cropping period.
For the chicken, the newly hatched chicks will be dispersed to members in a ‘roll over’ scheme. The recipient will pay the value of the chicks at harvest time.
The participants also planned of venturing into production of humba, tocino and dried fish.
DSWD-SLP is one of the poverty-reduction programs of DSWD along with Kalahi CIDSS-NCDDP, Pantawid Pamilya, Social Pension, Supplementary Feeding, and Grassroots Participatory Budgeting.
It aims to capacitate and develop the entrepreneurial and socio-economic skills of poor households through income-generating opportunities, enhancing their access to basic social services and employment.
To date, a total of 195 Pantawid beneficiaries from Montevista, Maragusan and Monkayo have been trained on Organic Farming while 75 from Don Marcelino, Talaingod and San Isidro, Davao Oriental trained on Automotive Services, also with ACES Polytechnic College.
In this time when more people prefer organic food, this farm tourism cum organic agriculture production project is very timely and relevant.
High school students or even out-of-school youth can also be trained in this setting where appreciation for agri-aqua culture is easily imbibed.
Farm tourism is a new variant in the mainstream tourism that attracts both local and foreign tourists. But most importantly, it’s a payoff for partner-beneficiaries who learn and earn while working. (DSWD)