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It is harvest season once again for the sugar industry in the province of Negros Occidental. A time of the year sugar farmers look forward to. In Barangay Bonifacio, Sagay City, MDCARC’s 134 small farmer-members are eager to see the fruits of their labour.

MDCARC was established and registered as a cooperative in 2016. The members decided to have their farm land, totalling 109 hectares, collectively-managed by the coop. Since they started planting sugar, their average yield per hectare for new plant is at 65-70 tons, even lower at 63 tons for ratoon. Their farming practices are mostly based on old knowledge and experience. Trash burning is common, soil analysis is not a priority, and cane point varieties are planted mixed in a field or not appropriately programmed.

In 2019, SIFI and LOPEZ Sugar Company, RSS Program implementers in the province’s 2nd milling district, partnered with MDCARC. The coop became one of the five partner-ARB groups of the Comprehensive Assistance to Small Holders (CASH) for Farm Productivity. The CASH program support starts from land preparation to harvest. It is where 3 partners —SIFI-RSS, the LOPEZ mill, and ARBO-MDCARC pool their resources to support a 2-hectare demo farm planted with sugar cane. SIFI provided inputs on soil sampling and soil fertility, demo farm protocol, farm-site technical inputs and monitoring, plus PPE, child labour initiatives, and access to alternative livelihood. LOPEZ granted 10 lacsas of HYVs and sugar farm technology/trash farming training.  MDCARC provided the demo farm and covered other production inputs and labour costs.

Fast forward to 2020, the farmers are starting to reap the results!

  • Savings on fertilizer requirement, which is now based on the soil analysis results. With trash farming practice and consistent adherence to results, it will surely bring back the vitality of their land.
  • A promising business, with the October opening of a Wholesaler Store. A first in the community, it is projected to earn extra income for the coop members.
  • And, for the first time since the coop was formed, the RSS demo farm yielded their highest thus far of 94 Tc/Has.!

The Farm Manager, Sadham Balansag expressed to SIFI, quote: “We are beyond happy! This is the first time that we have this kind of harvest. We are very grateful to SIFI-RSS. If not for the assistance, we would not have achieved this. We have started to apply the same protocol of the demo farm to another land area ready for new plant. ”

The harvest is truly abundant!