(File photo)

LAGONOY, Camarines Sur – Coastal farmers got a boost in abaca production and marketing following the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), partner agencies, and the local government unit (LGU) for the improvement of the abaca processing facility.

Under the Village Level Farm-focused Enterprise Development (VLFED) project, the Himanag-Sipaco Development Multipurpose Cooperative (HSDMPC) will receive PHP300,000 worth of construction materials for the improvement of their abaca processing center.

The cooperative will also receive PHP280,000 for skills and managerial training, as well as marketing activities for 120 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs).

The DAR, Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the LGU of Lagonoy signed the agreement at the Sangguniang Bayan Session Hall in Lagonoy, with the HSDMPC required to bear the labor costs, and the LGU Lagonoy contributing P50,000.

Noel Gaor, chairperson of the HSDMPC, thanked all the agencies involved in helping their agri-venture.

"Thank you, line agencies, especially DAR, for helping us with this VLFED livelihood project and the LGU for providing us with additional funds to improve our processing center," Gaor said in a news release on Sunday.

"We are so excited. With this partnership, our vision of expanding the production and marketing of abaca in coastal areas is now going to become a reality," Gaor added.

Provincial Agrarian Reform chief Renato C. Bequillo said with the help of partner agencies -- DTI, DOST, and the town of Lagonoy, ARBs will not only achieve an increase in agricultural productivity but will also develop entrepreneurial skills to improve the sustainability of their livelihoods.

"DAR will also allocate PHP370,000 for abaca product upgrading, marketing, and training in 2023 to ensure the long-term viability of the livelihood project," Bequillo said.

DOST Provincial Science and Technology Center (PSTC) will provide the services for economic growth and will give HSDMPC the technological support to help them scale up their production.

The DTI promised to assist the organization in marketing or selling their products and adapt it to the preferences of identified markets.

"Our agency has two supporting interventions for this program. First is the DTI-CARP project, which will provide them with continuous training to adjust to market innovation. Second, the Negosyo Center in Lagonoy promotes ease of doing business and facilitates access to services for small enterprises like that of the HSDMPC,” DTI Provincial Director Jay Percival Ablan said.

In recent years, DAR has supported HSDMPC through capacity building in abaca production by providing 2,700 tissue-cultured abaca plantlets of various varieties through the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA), as well as product development training in weaving trays, baskets, and mat-making.

DAR also linked the ARBO to its existing financing and business development support programs and projects. (PR)