|By pinoyfarmer | March 10, 2011|
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are set to invest in a rubber-plantation project in Bukidnon to provide additional funds for soldiers’ training and acquisition of military equipment, among others.
In a statement, the DA said that, together with the AFP, it will convert a 10,000-hectare idle portion of the 42,000-hectare Kibaritan Military Reservation in Bukidnon into a corporate farm devoted to growing rubber with possible expansion up to 16,000 hectares.
The AFP initially estimated its investment in the project at P70 million spent over seven years of planting and plantation management.
“The pilot project, if found profitable, was envisioned to be a template in developing idle parts of wide areas of military properties from Luzon to Mindanao to raise funds to sustain the AFP’s integrated logistical requirements for training; morale and welfare of military personnel; acquisition and maintenance of mission-essential equipment; and showcase production technology for rubber and other agricultural crops. Moreover, the project is envisioned to provide sources of livelihood to settlers close or inside those reservations,” the DA said in a statement.
National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor) chairman and Agriculture Undersecretary Jess Paras said Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro earlier endorsed the joint project as an in-partner showcase to the peace-and-development efforts in Mindanao. Nabcor is one of the investment arms of the DA.
Paras said a memorandum of agreement between the DA and the AFP is already being finalized, and will be signed by the middle of September this year.
The Nabcor head instructed his technical people to join representatives of the AFP headquarters in Manila to jointly inspect the area to fine-tune the implementing guidelines under the plan and validate the projected-investment requirements and viability analysis made by the military brass.
Paras also ordered his people to find out the viability of multiple cropping with other cash crops, like corn and coffee, and the possibility of an engineering brigade based in Bukidnon to help in building access roads to the plantation and other facilities, like putting up an irrigation system.
A technical working group from the AFP and the DA, he said, has met four times and visited the proposed rubber plantation.
Soil samples from the first 1,000 hectares to be planted on in the first year of the project have been taken for analysis to determine if other crops, including corn, coffee and cassava, are suitable.
The inspection team also found that 16,000 hectares, out of the original 42,000-hectare reservation, have been awarded to agrarian-reform beneficiaries under certificates of land acquisition.
Part of the proposed plantation was also found to be cultivated by some farmers who had an agreement with the camp commander to make those idle patches productive while the government had no use for them.
In a dialogue with farmers, the project implementers told the temporary occupants that they will be taken in as workers as soon as the plantation work has been started.
Written by Cai U. Ordinario
Source: Business Mirror