LOT DONATION. Mayor Nerivi Santos-Martinez of Talavera, Nueva Ecija receives the title for a cold storage lot from DAR Secretary John Castriciones on Wednesday (May 12, 2021). The DAR also distributed 159 titles to 150 agrarian reform beneficiaries in Nueva Ecija's five municipalities. (Photo by Marilyn Galang)

TALAVERA, Nueva Ecija – A total of 159 land titles, covering 98.78 hectares of rice farms, were distributed to 150 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in five municipalities of this province on Wednesday.

Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones said the municipal government led by Mayor Nerivi Santos-Martinez also received a separate 1.2-hectare land for an advanced cold storage facility for the farmers' produce in Barangay Bantug Hacienda here.

Castriciones lauded the local government for the PHP206-million project which, he said, will surely lead to progress among farmers.

The farmers who received titles here came from the municipalities of Cuyapo, Guimba, Pantabangan, Rizal, and this town.

Castriciones and Martinez also led the distribution of various farm implements under the Sustainable Livelihood Support for Disaster-Affected Areas  (SLSDAA) program to six agrarian reform beneficiaries' organizations covering six municipalities.

These include four units of hand tractors, six units of grass/brush cutter, six shallow tube well pumps and engines, 12 knapsack power sprayers, one shredding machine, and one power tiller-cultivator with a total cost of PHP1.5 million.

Four agrarian reform beneficiaries organizations (ARBOs) from three municipalities, on the other hand, received a total of PHP18.7-million assistance.

The recipients were the Sunshine Agricultural Credit Cooperative (Cabiao), Tupad Pangarap Multi-Purpose Cooperative  (Gapan City), Cama Juan ARB Cooperative (San Antonio) and Panabingan ARB Cooperative (San Antonio).

Martinez said the DAR, with its donated cold storage lot, paves the way for the realization of their dream way back 2004.

The facility will have the capacity of 120,000 bags to cater some 2,500 farmers from at least five municipalities, the mayor said.

This town is the fourth largest onion-producing town in the province, she said.

"Ito po ay magbibigay ng pag-asa at tulong sa ating mga kababayan, lalo na sa sektor ng agrikultura. Pangarap na magkaroon ng sariling cold storage sa ating bayan. Ito na ang katuparan (This will give hope and help to our province-mates, especially in the agricultural sector. The dream is to have our own cold storage in our town and this is the fulfillment)," Association of Barangay Councils president Nerito Santos Jr. said in an interview.

Sen. Christopher Lawrence Go and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles joined the event virtually.

Castriciones was accompanied by DAR Undersecretaries Emily Padilla, Support Service; Virginia Orogo, Policy, Planning and Research; Elmer Distor, Field Operations; Carim Panumpang, Special Concerns; and DAR regional and provincial officials. (PNA)