By Julio P. Yap Jr.
These former sacadas in Negros Occidental have become hacenderos – at least that is what they call themselves today.
This development came about after the present generation of the descendants of the former sacadas in Purok Kalubihan, Barangay Tabunan, Bago City, Negros Occidental, bonded together and formed the Hacienderos Agrarian Reform Cooperative or HARC. Now you know why they are now called the “hacenderos” in Barangay Tabunan.
The 156 members of HARC, coming from 60 family-beneficiaries, are now tilling some 65 hectares of productive land they got from the agrarian reform program of the government.
Aside from planting sugarcane, the members of HARC are also cultivating rice, banana, different vegetables, fruits, and other crops, in addition to the clumps of bamboo that are found around their area.
The group is presently headed by chairman Noel L. Bersamin, and supported by treasurer Anabel A. Mateo and bookkeeper Marietta P. Adorio, among other officers.
Since the provincial government of Negros Occidental advocates organic farming, the group has already devoted some seven hectares of land for cultivating organic sugarcane and other organic crops.
They have also tried producing muscovado sugar. However, this venture was apparently discontinued due to logistics problems and probably alack of technical know-how.
But their enthusiasm was rekindled after the Ecological and Agricultural Development Foundation (Eco-Agri), a non-stock, non-profit organization, introduced life-changing technologies to the officers and members of the cooperative. This came about after they had an initial consultation meeting with Bacolod Citybased RU Foundry and Machine Shop Corporation (RUFMSC) head Ramon D. Uy Sr.
Incidentally, Eco-Agri is a vital arm of RUFMSC in promoting organic farming and good agricultural practices in the region.
During a recent visit of Uy Sr. to the farm of HARC in the barangay of Bago City, he shared his invaluable advice with the officers and members of the coop in terms of producing muscovado sugar at a sustainable level.
Uy Sr. even offered to provide the necessary machinery and equipment to the group for them boost their productivity.
One thing that Uy Sr. observed is that the whole area covered by HARC has the potential to become a farm tourism destination with proper development. He added that once developed and fully operational, the area of HARC could also become a natural schoolroom where farm enthusiasts can learn hands-on organic farming and have the opportunity to commune with nature.
At present, HARC already has some five hectares planted with different kinds of fruit-bearing trees like mango, jackfruit, and banana.
Another potential income generator for the members of the cooperative is the propagation of the “Mickey Mouse” plant which bears fruits that resemble the head of the cartoon character. Uy Sr. noticed that the said ornamental plant, which can command a reasonable price, grows well in the area.
It will also have its own version of “rice terraces,” which can be realized after Uy Sr. finds a suitable area where it can be developed.
Aside from the potentials of HARC’s area to become a farm tourism destination, other interesting features which can be found at Purok Kalubihan include a hanging bridge and the nearby spillway.
Value of Agriculture
The development of HARC’s area will not just benefit the members of the cooperative, but the different communities in the vicinity as well.
After all, the government recognizes that tourism, coupled with agricultural extension services, can disseminate the value of agriculture in the economic and cultural development of the country, and serve as a catalyst for the improvement of agricultural communities in the countryside.
The government also encourages the promotion of environment-friendly, efficient, and sustainable farm practices, which could provide alternative recreational facilities and farm tourism activities for families, students, and other clientele, aside from promoting health and wellness with quality farm-produced food.
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s January 2018 issue.