TABUK CITY, Kalinga – True to his promise, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol, visited this rice-producing province recently.
One of the projects that Sec. Piñol prioritized during his visit is the conversion of marijuana plantations to coffee farms. Several provisions were given to push this project.
The Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA), the brainchild of Sec. Piñol, is a program for Filipino farmers where they can avail of loans to finance their farming. Together with this is a national identification card system for farmers called the “Juan Magsasaka National Farmers Registration Monitoring ID.” By simply showing the ID, the farmer can already take advantage of PLEA.
The pilot program will be rolled out this year and Kalinga is the second province chosen to have this implemented.
A household can borrow a maximum amount of twenty-thousand pesos per hectare of land for coffee farming payable in six years which is double the time of coffee maturity to encourage people to transition from marijuana farming.
Tinglayan is the priority municipality, specifically the barangay of Loccong where 10,000 Arabica coffee seedlings was awarded to the Loccong Gardeners Association as a start-up support.
In line with this, Sec. Piñol will be giving native pigs to the region as an additional livelihood while waiting for seedlings to grow. In exchange, trichanthera must be planted in the province which is a good substitute for commercial feeds and less costly than commercial ones.
Mayor Sacrament Gumilab of Tinglayan, during the dialogue with the DA secretary, requested for P90 million support for the Tulgao-Loccong-Buscalan farm-to-market road (FMR) worth P 90M to reach more than 85 hectares of marijuana plantations.
Sec. Piñol approved of this and the Governor Jocel Baac will give and additional 10% of the amount.
All the municipality has to do is to assure the road-right-of-way and that it will also lead the production area to the market.
The proposal for the opening/gravelling of the Loccong FMR which leads to a marijuana plantation was also given a budget of which P1.5 million will be coming from Sec. Piñol and another P 1.5M from Gov. Baac.
Sec. Piñol is hopeful marijuana farmers in Kalinga will abandon marijuana production and switch to a more viable and sustainable farming like coffee.
By Ayra Galanza