South Cotabato rubber production gets boost

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/25 June)—The World Bank-funded Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP) has extended P10 million for a rubber production project in T’boli, South Cotabato, officials said.

Benefiting around 90 farmers, the project aims to plant 55,000 rubber trees intercropped with coffee in Sitio Basag, Barangay Salacafe, the gateway to Mt. Melibingoy and Lake Maughan, two of South Cotabato’s tourist spots.

Reynaldo Legaste, provincial agriculture officer, said the rubber production project is a combination of food security intervention and community-based livelihood activities under the MRDP’s Community Fund for Agriculture Development component.

The Agriculture department is implementing the MRDP, which provided the assistance to farmers belonging to the South Cotabato Rubber Based Farming Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SCRBF MPC).

“They have been identified as poor small farmers who owns at least one hectare of under-developed land and not earning enough to meet the basic needs of their family,” Legaste said.

On the other hand, the project also targets to increase forest cover and rehabilitate a silted river system in the province.

South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. said the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has approved P2 million as a counterpart fund of the province to the rubber project.

Pingoy said they are hoping that through the planting of rubber trees in the uplands of Tboli, the project will decrease the incidence of siltation in the Allah River.

Siltation in the river has been blamed to the flooding in some areas in South Cotabato and nearby towns of Sultan Kudarat province.

Cesar Tandog, one of the beneficiaries of the rubber production project in T’boli, lauded the DA and the provincial government for the livelihood opportunity, saying that rubber has huge commercial potentials.

Vinancio Tinggal, a farmer beneficiary from Lake Sebu town for the first batch of the project, appeared bullish upon learning that that in the next three years, he and the other beneficiaries will begin harvesting the rubber trees.

Tinggal is now tending at least 2000 rubber trees in his four-hectare farm in Barangay Lamkade in Lake Sebu.

Three years ago, MRDP initiated the rubber production project in Lake Sebu, which covered at least 167 hectares of land and involved 70 farmers in three barangays of Lamdalag, Klobe, and Lamkadi.

Local officials in Lake Sebu expressed confidence that the MRDP project will help ensure income because the demand for natural rubber, according to a Food and Agriculture report, is increasing at a rate of three to four percent per year. (MindaNews)