By Mike U. Crismundo

BUTUAN CITY – Rubber growers in this region’s premier and capital city of Butuan and its neighboring areas are seen to increase their production following the completion of the P22.1 million Integrated Rubber Production and Marketing Project in Barangay Tungao, this city.

The Department of Agriculture – Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP) officially turned over the Integrated Rubber Production and Marketing Project for the Km. 7 Farmers’ Producers Cooperative (KFPC) on Wednesday (June 25).

The turnover ceremony was headed by DA 13 Regional Executive Director (RED) Abel James I. Monteagudo together with OIC City Agriculturist Pierre Anthony Joven, KFPC Chairman Samuel Caliwanagan and General Manager Nilo Calipayan, and DA-PRDP Component and Unit Heads.

“This dream is now a reality. We cannot build these facilities on our own. We’re grateful that the government has responded to our needs through DA-PRDP,” said KFPC Chairman Samuel Calawigan, Jr.

Calawigan said that the enterprise project helps the Cooperative in being the service provider for the rubber growers in Butuan City and the neighboring municipalities. They provide inputs, tools, and budded rubber planting materials for the recommended clones.

The P8.4 million of which is the infrastructure component of the enterprise project that comprises the completed construction of the warehouse, seedling production building and seedbed to support its members and rubber growers.

KFPC General Manager Nilo Calipayan said that they are targeting an increase of 500 hectares in rubber plantation per year and the interventions they received would help them reach the goal.

“We’ve been challenged by our goal so we’ve reached out helping the rubber growers of the neighboring municipalities, and not just the cluster members here in Butuan,” Calipayan added.

The Cooperative has a cumulative rubber planted area of around 1400 hectares for all the members and they are expecting an increase in production now that the project has been completed.

“The members of the Cooperative have grown from 158 members to 460. Most have decided to be part of us when they saw that we are progressing and the Cooperative has been managed well,” said Calawigan.

“We’re confident that a project like this will be handled well by the Cooperative. We have seen their hard work and they have maintained their good reputation,” said DA 13 and DA-PRDP Project Director RED Monteagudo .

Other than the completed P22.1 million project, there is also the ongoing construction of 9.82 km farm-to-market road (FMR) project amounting to P158.9 million from DA-PRDP to support the Cooperative’s enterprise and the rubber industry in Butuan City.