Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries turn into Abaca Entrepreneurs

The Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) of Marcelo Cooperative (ARBEMCO) in the Municipality of Kalawit, Zamboanga del Norte commenced operation of its Abaca Fiber Production and Marketing Enterprise as the recipient of the Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP).

ARBEMCO formally received the Php2.94 Million worth of DA-PRDP subproject last February which includes a 6-ton hauling truck and 8 units decorticating machines, plus bolos and personal protective gear needed in its abaca fiber production and enterprise.

Lenie Pecson, Alternate Head of the DA-PRDP’s Investment in Rural Enterprises and Agricultural and Fisheries Productivity (I-REAP) graced the occasion. She commended PLGU Zamboanga del Norte for being the fastest LGU to implement the I-REAP subproject in less than a year only.  

According to her, the main objective of PRDP is to increase farmers’ income.

Based on the business plan, after the one-year operation, beneficiaries involved in the enterprise are expected to increase their income by at least 100 percent (%); 5% increase in household income of abaca farmers from Php98,579 to Php103,507.95.  In three years, the production area will increase from 130 hectares to 230% planted to abaca.  

Meanwhile, Acting Provincial Agriculturist Celsa Gayapa, recalled the long process they hurdled before realizing ARBEMCO’s enterprise subproject, saying: “With the 8 decorticating machines and hauling truck, I am pretty sure that ARBEMCO will attain inclusive growth. Sana kitang tanan magkahugpong magtinabangay aron molambo ang atong proyekto (May we all work together to prosper this project)”.

Board of Directors Chair Hector Igot disclosed that ARBEMCO is a 21-year old agrarian reform beneficiaries’ cooperative with 100 hectares rubber area intercropped with abaca, 40 hectares of which are ready for selective harvest.  Another 30 hectares are planted solely to abaca. They have 279 active workers but only 35 workers engaged in the abaca fiber production (24 processors and 11 for maintenance). 

Since 2012, ARBEMCO has been trading abaca fiber to a trader certain Ernesto Sevilla based in Pagadian City and is trading to Newtech Pulp Inc. in Iligan City.  The coop used to hire hauling vehicles for on-farm operations and delivery of abaca fiber to Pagadian City.   Each month, the coop produces 1,440 kgs of abaca fiber using the 6 units (10-year old) decorticating machines.   With the brand new decorticating machines, the coop targets to produce 6,000 kgs. dried abaca fiber every two months.  The enterprise is expected to sell 147,456 kgs in one year of operation.  Year 2 would be 276,480 kgs and 497,664 kgs in the 3rd year. Cost ratio of 1.09, internal rate of return of 39% and the net present value of 2,188,631.

Abaca is one of the prime commodities in Zamboanga Peninsula wherein Kalawit ranks first in terms of the total area planted with 133.8 hectares.  Sibuco ranked 2nd with 106.9 hectares; 3rd is Sergio Osmeña (70.26 hectares); Gutalac with 70.26 hectares and Godod is 57.33 hectares. (PNA News)

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