PEF, farmers assess sugarcane block farming in Negros

Blurb: Ernesto hopes too that other farmers/planters will be encouraged to adopt the block farming scheme, and reap positive results in their own lands.

Farmer Ernesto Obtinalla registered his two – hectare farm to block farming through Crossing Ibos Farmers Credit Cooperative (CIFCC). After a year, his production of sugarcane and net income increased from fifty (50) tons per hectare to seventy-three (73) tons per hectare. His production and net income increased compared to the last cropping with no block farming yet.

Particulars Without Block Farm With Block Farm Change (%)
Cane Tons (CT)/Has 47.22 73.24 55.10%
Net Income (NY) / Has 26,519.75 51,319.54 93.51%
NY 2 Has. enrolled 53,039.50 102,639.08 93.51%
Ave. Mo. Farm Income 4,419.96 8,553.26 93.51%

Table 1. Ernesto Obtinalla’s production before block farming, and with black farming

CIFCC is just one of the cooperatives/associations, which joined the Diversified Sugarcane Block Farming Enterprise Program (DBF) of Multi – Sectoral Alliance for Development – Negros (MUAD – Negros). In sugarcane block farming, farmers enroll their two to three hectares of farmlands to their cooperatives/associations. Once the total number of hectares reach fifty five (55), a block farm is formed. Each block farm has twenty to twenty-five farmer-participants. They sign an agreement with their cooperative giving it full authority to co-manage the farmer’s enrolled land for three years.

Just like Ernesto, participating farmers are paid wages but are also considered part time owners of the enterprise, sharing in the enterprise’s risk and rewards.  They become agri-entrepreneurs themselves. Block farming is also a means by which small farmers gain experience in managing bigger farms. 

The Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF) collaborated with the MUAD farmers’ organization members and provided production capital for the 55 hectares per farmer organization, and offered incentives to farmers with the highest tonnage of sugarcane. PEF also funded the business development services given by MUAD. PEF helped the farmers through capacity building and development activities.

Though uncertain at first, Ernesto and the other farmers’ shot in the dark paid off for the impact on farm productivity and farmer incomes resulted into positive effects such as the improvement in crop performance, standardization of several processes such as having the right plant population, planting high-yielding varieties, proper nutrient management, and good cultivation. At the same time, funds are being used more effectively and efficiently as planned. Different government agencies supported the block farming scheme, namely Sugar Regulatory Commission, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, and the local government units.

Today, Ernesto says, he is confident that farmers like him are ready to face the challenges like the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement. Ernesto hopes too that other farmers/planters will be encouraged to adopt the block farming scheme, and reap positive results in their own lands.