CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The agriculture department in Northern Mindanao (DA-10) eyes for the Mantibugao Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Farmers’ Cooperative (MARBFC), as one of its pilot areas for the Farm and Fisheries Clustering and Consolidation Program (F2C2).

Based in Zone 2, Mantibugao, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, MARBFC is primarily engaged in corn and cassava production and other value-adding activities, and one of the longstanding project-implementers of the department founded back in 1991.

Two years ago, the farmers’ group has also been recognized as the Grand Champion for the Cassava Cluster Management Excellence Awards (CCMEA) of DA.

“The cooperative has been chosen, given their responsiveness to the implementation of various programs and projects of the government,” Carlene C. Collado, regional executive director of DA-10 said.

“With the continued vision of the farmers’ group in uplifting the lives of its members and the community, MARBFC is a great prospect in leading more small farmers to replicate their clustering and consolidation approach in production, processing and marketing, and further bringing it to another level,” he detailed.

DA Administrative Order 27 states, F2C2 aims to bring economies of scale in agriculture through the provision of technical and financial support, enabling more farmers and fisherfolk, including agripreneurs to produce and earn more, at the same time.

Under said Program, the agency can extend a downpour of assistance ranging from pre-production and production support, postharvest facilities, packaging support, transport and logistics, credit, marketing assistance, among others to farm and fishery clusters.

DA’s set eligibility criteria to avail of projects under F2C2 is set at 100 hectares for rice production, corn and other grain crops (75 ha.), high value vegetable crops (50 ha.), fruit trees and perennials (100 ha) and, at 100 hectares for fiber crops.

“Amid the current decline in the buying price for corn, MARBFC is assured of a market by providing the weekly 500 metric tons requirement of Pilmico Foods, Corp. pegged at P15 per kilo,” Richan D. Lacanaria, regional corn focal person of the agency reported.

The coop is catering corn farm clusters from Southern Bukidnon like Quezon, Kitaotao, Kibawe, Damulog, Don Carlos and Kadingilan to avail the higher price of Pilmico.

Back in March 2018, MARBFC has already inked an agreement with Pilmico under its Inclusive Corn Sourcing Project.

“We are buying corn from other corn clusters, aside from our own, to also aid other corn farmers,” Antonio B. Juanitas, Jr., MARBFC chairman accounted.

“We are also thankful for the department in granting us farm machineries and equipment that helped us in reducing our labor [production] cost,” the farmers’ coop official continued.

While an orientation for the pilot farm clusters is still underway, Juanitas conveyed, that it is a good opportunity for them to be considered under DA’s F2C2 program.

“Should we be fortunate, and the Program be finally in place, we really look forward in proposing for inputs assistance and additional establishment of a storehouse,” the farmers-coop official shared.

He further detailed, MARBFC will buy farmers corn produce at a reasonable price to help them since the provision of inputs is crucial.

Their approach will prevent farmers from going to traders for financing that will force them to sell their harvest [to them] at dictated prices.

Since MARBFC’s inception with only 15 members, they are now 480 members in strength planting around 117 hectares of corn and 264 hectares of cassava.

Of which, under the farm cluster’s wing is five cooperatives and four associations from the towns of Manolo Fortich and Libona in Bukidnon. #