DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano delivers his message during the inauguration and turn over ceremony.
DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano delivers his message during the inauguration and turn over ceremony.

CABUCGAYAN, BILIRAN – Agrarian Reform secretary Rafael Mariano turned over here on Saturday ₱7.1-million worth of post-harvest facilities (PHF) to the Balaquid Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative.

But Mariano in his message insinuated that the PHF, which was implemented under the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR’s) third phase of the Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Project (ARISP-III), was not enough yet.

Though the project consists of a 105-square meter warehouse, a 49-square meter office and a 492-square meter solar dryer, Mariano believed that the cooperative also needs a mechanical dryer to be able to continue their operations even on rainy days.

He also agreed with Biliran Representative Rogelio Espina, who was also present during the said occasion, that the cooperative likewise needs a multi-pass rice mill so the latter could go full blast in their rice trading operations.

Immediately, Mariano instructed his undersecretary for Foreign Assisted and Special Projects Sylvia Mallari, who was with him, to think ways how the Department could provide these to the farmers. According to him, the country could be rice sufficient if we will help the farmers.

In acceptance, Iladia Calabia, chairperson of the said cooperative thanked DAR and said “malaking tulong ang proyekto na ito sa amin na pag-iimbakan at pagbibilaran ng palay dahil karamihan sa mga magsasaka dito ay rice farmers” (this project is of big help to us in storing and drying rice because most of the farmers here are rice farmers).

Further, Calabia took the opportunity to request from Mariano and Espina to provide them also a delivery truck so they could save on rentals in the hauling of rice
aside from the mechanical dryer and rice mill that had been mentioned earlier by the secretary and the congressman.

Meanwhile, Mayor Edwin Masbang disclosed that in 2017 his administration will provide rice subsidy to municipal employees and promised to tap this cooperative as a supplier.
Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Renato Badilla explained that the project was funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the local government unit.

He added that this agrarian reform community (ARC) is a recipient of various rural development projects, which include an irrigation project that could supply water to 60 hectares of rice fields, a 1.7 kilometers farm-to-market road and a potable water system installed in 208 households.

Members of the said cooperative were also trained on the Department of Agriculture’s “Palay Check” which increased rice yield in this area, Badilla further added. (JOSE ALSMITH L. SORIA)