Guillerma Farms was a fifteen hectares’ sugarcane
landholding formerly owned by the Yupangco family but was later covered by
Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform
Program (CARP). The said landholding was given to the farmer-beneficiaries by
means of collective CLOA for the farmer beneficiaries to ease up even a little
bit their way of living by means of having now their own lands to till and as
the sole owner of their produce. But as we went to the field we observed that
not all the farmers that was awarded with a parcel of lands are sustainable
enough because they could not yield a high production from their small lot and
that their profit is very small which is they need other extra income in order
for them to sustain their family’s day to day needs, to send their children to
school and to finance again their small acquired land for the next cropping
season.

 

The land area arable in a flat terrain and is very
much suited for the sugarcane crop but still, the farmer’s yield of production
is low because of lack of training, and support services from the government,
which is for me is very vital for the management of their land and for the
production side. Also, the sugarcane crops are physically observed as low in
nutrition due to inadequate of farm inputs like fertilizer and irrigation.

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Moreover, the cooperative has its own steamed
power/operated muscovado processing but the said machinery is not functional
due to lack of funding and support services from the government agencies
specifically for the Department of Agrarian Reform, since under the DAR
Republic Act 6657, under section 35 of the said law there is a provision for
the coordinative and support services that will guarantee for the cooperative
development management through intensive training, as well as to guarantee for
all their agricultural produce. Although they have their own title lands as the
available resources, still it is observable that they are very much lack of
some other necessary resources for them to be called sustainable enough.

Hence, Tatay Adriano De Guzman and Tatay Armando
Panganiban, said that they are using the Pampanga Variety (var. 56), because as
for them the said variety is very much suitable for the location, and it can
withstand drought since they have no irrigation system. The standing crop is
also observed physically as lack of nutrition because according to them they
have to budget their fertilizer for it is very much costly, and they cannot
afford to buy different kinds of fertilizer which is needed for the crops
complete nutritional requirements since they have to budget their income and
have a savings which they said will be intended for their other production
inputs until the next harvest.

Despite the shortness of time of visiting the
community and talking to some of the members of the cooperative like Tatay
Adriano De Guzman (a.k.a. Tatay Danny) with an acquired parcel of land of less
than one hectare married and with five children, Tatay Armando Panganiban
(a.k.a. Tatay Manding) single and also with less than one hectare of acquired
parcel of land, Tatay Gregorio Ellao, which is the President of the
cooperative, farmer leader and as the same time the Barangay Agrarian Reform
Council Chairman (BARC), Nanay Remedios De Guzman which is the wife of Mr.
Salvador De Guzman whose the one that sold his parcel of land to CARRD, we
learned so much from them most especially on how they manage to sustain their
basic needs, their small parcel of lands, their family and on how they continue
fighting poverty amidst their situation and setbacks in their life as farmer
beneficiaries, father to their children, members of the cooperative and it
really struck me when they told me that they haven’t received any support
services such as production inputs from the government side, and some training
for production and cooperative management which could somehow help them in
their sugarcane farming and cooperative management. Also, one thing that struck
me is the fact that, in their old age they still continue tilling their lands
through thick and thin under the striking heat of the sun because they don’t
have any children who are interested in farming, tilling, and/ or even managing
their own acquired small parcel of lands because true to the children nowadays
are less interested in agriculture.

Likewise, the usual problem of crop damage due to white
grub infestation where they call it here as “Ulalo” caught my attention and it
also struck me because till now the government has not done something to help
small farmers like them to survive that kind of ordeal.

Furthermore, the field trip to Guillerma Farms located
at Barangay Caybunga, Balayan, Batangas could be perceived as one of the
meaningful moments in learning as we all go through the road of rural
development and it could be distinguished as a one rare moments of social
experience that provide us students to encounter and have a glimpse of what is
really happening in the field, what are the problems that rural people are
facing, how farmers like them continue to strive hard in order to survive, how
they are able to feed their families and sustain their day to day needs despite
the fact that their annual yield of production and net income is very much not
sustaining. Also, I learned that despite their annual net income of 50,000.00
for a less than one hectare of land planted to sugarcane they still manage to
send their children to school and on how to budget that small amount of money
and have a savings which will be used for their next cropping season in order
for them not have to borrow money to other people which for them will take some
years to pay along with the interest. Likewise, I learned that while there are
so many public officials spending so much money on projects that are less
important, training and seminars that are replicated and less necessary,
proposing project that is not the most priority of the people most particularly
in the rural areas, there are so many people out there living in rural
community, so many farmer beneficiaries that are in need of support service and
financial and technical assistance, training and seminars that the government
left unattended and not given of utmost priority and importance,  and then I know that there are so many rural
communities that needs to be develop and empowered, for them to be fully
sustainable and for their next generation.

            There
are so many challenges that the rural community still facing and they are all
related to access to basic needs, support, and services, sustainability,
development, and empowerment. Hence, I could relate what I have experienced in
that short of community visit with my work, by way of constant and continued
learning for development in order to bring forth a sustainable agriculture to
the rural community where it is most likely needed, where food safety and
sustainability should begin with. Through empowerment, where we all know that
is necessary for those brothers and sisters of ours living in the rural areas.
Also, those experiences could be much more of a relation in the manner of
pursuing every opportunity that comes along, always be on a positive side of
life and that keep on showing everyone that even though we have less than what
others have we should always know how to show them that we are credible,
responsible and tough enough to face every problem that throws our way. That
regardless of what we have or how much we have, we should not discount every
opportunity and every blessing that we might have or have been experienced or
even failed to highlight that has been given to improve little by little the
way our work and our life have to be as we all come to fulfill our needs and
the needs of others especially those in the rural sector of the society with
passion for everything that we do as we all know and even believe rural
development comes along with empowerment, sustainability, and    success.

x

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