Mark D. Francisco
April 1, 2016
Small-scale farmers in Northern Mindanao continue to expand into value-added products as they recognize the need to diversify income sources.
The farmers and agriculture officers of 16 local government units (LGUs) in the region took part in a two-day congress this week on Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR).
Under CPAR, crops and technology packages for making value-added products are introduced to farming communities by the Department of Agriculture (DA).
The program was introduced to the farmers in 2005.
At the congress that opened on March 28, the LGUs exhibited their existing processed products from rice, corn, soybean, different potato varieties, and vegetables.
Their goods include food crisps, native cakes, milk, and soap.
There was also a demonstration of potato-based farming systems and an introduction of alternative crop varieties.
DA — Region 10 Director Lealyn A. Ramos said she was elated to see how the communities have developed their own value-added food and non-food products.
â€œWe are backing our farmers up through trainings and support in production, post-harvest, technologies, [and] market linkages, among others,â€ Ms. Ramos said.
The outstanding farmers groups, agriculture workers, and LGUs were given recognition during the event.
JOBS DRYING UP
Employment in Northern Mindanaoâ€™s agriculture sector, which makes up about 23% of the regional economy, has been declining due to the dry weather brought about by El NiÃ±o, according to the National Economic and Development Authority in Region 10 (NEDA-10).
In NEDA-10â€™s latest quarterly report released this week, the number of agriculture workers dropped to 725,000 as of October 2015, fewer by 13% than the year before.
The agriculture sector covers agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing.
Cecilio Y. Clarete, NEDA-10 chief economic development specialist, said the decline could be attributed to the erratic weather phenomenon.
The countryâ€™s weather bureau started logging a significant sea surface temperature anomaly in April 2014, and the prevailing El NinÃµ is expected to last until the middle of this year.