What was originally a temporary food security intervention and response to the economic challenges brought about by COVID-19 to farmers and agrarian reform beneficiary organizations (ARBO), the vegetable garden is fast becoming a sustainable and long-term source of livelihood.
The Productivity Aid to Group of Small Farmers Improve their C(K)rop or PAGSIK Incentives Program is one of the key strategies under the SIFI – RSS (Responsible Sourcing from Small Landholders) Program.
PAGSIK aims to incentivize ARBOs for being responsible sugar growers; such as practicing trash farming vs trash burning, not allowing child labor, and promoting personal protective equipment (PPE) use among working members.
The PAGSIK Incentives Program has 10 ARBO partners: Caridad Delapaz Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (CADARBA) in Sagay City, Cot-cot Upland Farm & Farmers Association (CUFFA) in Cadiz City, Defuego 2 Multi-Purpose Agri & Farmers Association (DFMPAFA), Sitio Tayap Upland Farm Workers Association (STUFAWA), Association of San German Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ASGARB) & Hda. Esmeralda 2 Rice Farmers Association (HES2RIFA) in Silay City, Nangka Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (NARBA) in Escalante City, Gracia Farmers Association (GFA) in Cadiz City, Kilusang Pagbabago – Minautok Upland Farmers Association (KP-MUFA) & First District Upper Ministerial Association Spiritual Economic Endeavor (FIDUMASEE) in Calatrava.
SIFI – RSS provided the ARBOs with seeds and farming tools and each of them planted at least 5 different types of vegetables (eggplant, tomato, pepper, lady fingers, pechay, radish, & bitter gourd) in a 600 to 1,000 square meter lot.
“[PAGSIK] gave our members the added knowledge they need through seminars. This also became a source of extra income and is a big help in mitigating poverty in the community. This also supplied us with vegetables that are fresh and inexpensive,” Mary Jean Tanaya, Chairman of Cot-cot Upland Farm & Farmers Association in Cadiz City (CUFFA), said.
“We are planning to expand the vegetable garden with complete inputs as well as find a permanent buyer for the produce,” Tanaya added.
Aside from giving the ARBOs seeds and farming tools, SIFI – RSS also provided training inputs on crop management, pest & disease management and control, and plastic mulch installation done farm-site. SIFI – RSS also provided them with seminars in record keeping training, harvesting inputs, and marketing linkages.
“This program provided our ARBO and its members with additional source of income from selling fresh vegetables. It also helped the community because we now have a market that is near and sells cheap vegetables,” Judy Tupas, secretary of NARBA, said.