ISULAN, Sultan Kudarat – Farmers including surrendered rebels from an indigenous peoples (IPs) community in an upland town in this province are expected to have increased productivity and income after receiving coffee production post-harvest facilities from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Region 12 (Soccsksargen).
“It was in support of the national government’s call to end armed conflict in the countryside,” DOLE-12 Director Raymundo Agravante said in a statement on Sunday.
He said the post-harvest facilities, amounting to PHP666,156 were turned over Friday afternoon to the Tupi-Bato Farmers Association at Sitio Tupi-Bato, Barangay Midtungok, Sen. Ninoy Aquino (SNA) municipality, some 20 kilometers south of this capital town.
The event, spearheaded by Agravante, was also attended by SNA Mayor Randy Ecija, Jr., DOLE Sultan Kudarat provincial director Mary Jane Hoksuan, and Col. Rommel Valencia of the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion (7IB).
With the simple intervention, Agravante said the 36 members of the association, mostly IPs, “can now improve coffee production and marketing with the use of a brand new coffee huller machine, a 2,500-kilogram platform weighing scale, 10 all-weather plastic dryer tents, and 100 liters of crude gas, among others.”
Before the turnover of the facilities, he said the DOLE-Sultan Kudarat field office conducted capability building as a preparatory step in setting up a business formation.
Agravante said the entrepreneurial project is in partnership with the 7IB, the Sultan Kudarat provincial government, the provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, and the SNA local government unit.
“Ronald”, an IP farmer-beneficiary who is a former communist rebel, expressed joy over the assistance, saying the government has been true to its promise of uplifting the lives of IPs in the countryside.
“We really appreciate this project. Now, we are really convinced that the government cares for us IPs living here in a faraway place,” he said in the vernacular during a phone interview with the Philippine News Agency here Sunday.
Meanwhile, Agravante said the DOLE-12 also awarded a “Kabuhayan” check amounting to PHP1,547,070 to its accredited co-partner, the SNA town government, for 85 informal sector workers, most of whom are self-employed IP women, youth, persons with disabilities, senior citizens, former rebels, and parents of child laborers. (PNA)