SUPPORT TO IP FARMERS. Philippine Coconut Authority-Caraga Manager Joel Oclarit says some 540 indigenous people farmers in Agusan del Sur province are set to directly benefit from the IP Outreach Program of the agency. With an allocation of over PHP5.4 million, the program intends to help IP communities sustain their food needs in the midst of the fight to contain the spread of the pandemic in the area. (PNA photo by Alexander Lopez)

BUTUAN CITY – Some 540 indigenous people (IP) farmers from Agusan del Sur will benefit from the IP Outreach Program (IPOP) of the Philippine Coconut Authority in Caraga Region (PCA-13).

PCA-13 Manager Joel Oclarit said the IPOP program aims to provide support to IP farmers in Agusan del Sur who are directly affected by the implementation of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to contain the spread of the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the area.

“The agency wants to help our IP farmers cope with the impact of the ECQ in the middle of the efforts of the government to fight the spread of the pandemic,” Oclarit told the Philippine News Agency Thursday.

PCA-13 has a total allocation of PHP5,148,960 to finance the program in Agusan del Sur.

Under the program, IP farmers will be provided with coconut planting materials particularly seed nuts for planting and growing.

Oclarit said an IP farmer will be paid PHP40 per grown seed nuts.

“In a period of two to three months, once the seed nuts are about one-foot tall, an IP farmer will be paid PHP18 per grown coconut plant,” he added.

In a period of six to eight months, when the seedlings are already ready for planting, an IP farmer will again be paid PHP22 per fully grown seedling of coconut, he said.

Oclarit said PCA-13 has already started the distribution of seed nuts during the first week of April 2020 in the town of Prosperidad with 27 IP farmers as beneficiaries, Sta. Josefa with 146 beneficiaries, Bunawan with 89, and Talacogon with 35.

The four towns had a total allocation of PHP1.6 million, most of which was already paid to concerned IP farmers after inspection of their grown seed nuts.

Oclarit said 243 more IP farmers in the towns of Esperanza, Bayugan City, Rosario, Sibagat, and Loreto will receive their payments starting May 6 until May 14, 2020.

He said the IPOP program for Agusan del Sur still has an allocation of over PHP3.4 million to pay the remaining IP farmers. (PNA)