By: Flezza Mae J. Eata, Mary Catherine Ynez U. Lavega and Bryan Jeremy Mabini
THE Department of Agriculture aims to expand farmlands dedicated to onion and garlic in Miagao, Iloilo by 50.4 percent.
From an initial 72 hectares (has.) of onion and garlic farms, the municipality will expand the area to 108.3 has.
The local government unit also prioritized 29 barangays along the Tumagbok River for the expansion, which will benefit 396 farmers.
Miagao has been dubbed as the “Onion Capital” of the Visayas for producing an average of 200 metric tons in 2016. The expansion is seen to further boost production in the coming years.
April Joy Depamaylo, municipal focal person of the DA for the expansion, said Miagao has the ideal type of climate and soil for onion and garlic.
“Ang climate bala nga may tag-ururan (rainy) kag tag-irinit (summer) kag lupa nga sandy loam.”
In August 2017, the DA offered a P100-million credit assistance to Miagao farmers. Part of the budget will be used for the expansion of their lands through the PLEA or Production Loan Easy Access.
PLEA is a credit program implemented by the DA designed to address the financial needs of marginal and small farmers. The loans can be accessed through cooperative banks, cooperation, farmers’ organizations, and non-government organizations.
In Miagao, the official conduit is the Rural Bank of Miagao.
The town has identified 396 farmers from 29 barangays who are eligible to access the loan.
Municipal Agriculturist Raymundo Monroy said farmers lack capital to expand their production and to buy the necessary equipment. The credit program will provide them capital for the expansion expenses.
“There was no money offered to them, only seedlings. It’s good that there is money because it would be easier to finance the production,” Monroy said.
The expansion is also expected to lessen the importation of onion and garlic in the town. According to the statistics presented by the DA Secretary Piñol, Miagao imported 89 percent of garlic and 53 percent for onions as of 2017.
Others crops that were also mentioned are peanuts, monggo, milk and coffee.
In an assessment of the rural bank and in accordance to the rules of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), a total of P20 million from the P100-million budget will be used for the expansion.
“Twenty million lang gid kay gina-assess pa sang ACPC kung capable guid man nga maghatag sang amo na nga amount. For example, sang August 9 pwede P100 million pero upon assessment naganubo man na siya depende sa pag-evaluate sang mga farmers kung i-grant gid man [loan],” Depamaylo said.
The farmers will have to go to their respective barangay captains to get a certification confirming that they plant garlic and onion before securing a certificate of eligibility for the PLEA from the appointed Project Management Officer of the ACPC.
The rural bank will then release the money loaned by the applicants.
“Mabakal kami fertilizer, abono, dayun kon may financial guid man nga ano [given], ipangsuhol sa mga tawo, sa manug tanum bala ra, amu ra ang number one, tapus hilo (pesticides),” said 34-year old farmer Shielamae Billaspin.
Billaspin has been a garlic farmer for five years at Brgy. Tigmarabu, Miagao and a member of the Mag-arahus sa Tigmarabu, a local garlic farmers’ cooperative.
Secretary Piñol returned to Miagao on Nov 17 to formally turn over a check for P20 million to the rural bank at the Justice Ramon Britannico Memorial Hall.
The remaining P30 million will be released soon.
Piñol further clarified that the remaining P50 million will be allotted for a cold-storage facility.
Carmen Cillador, a resident of Brgy. Malagyan, Miagao and an onion farmer, said storing their extra produce is difficult without proper storage facilities.
“May tiyempo man to nga pirdi kami kay ang mga tanum gadurunot lang,” Cillador said.
This forces farmers to sell onions at a much cheaper price.
Malagyan is one of the barangays identified by the DA as ideal for onions and garlic.
Other barangays being eyed for land expansion are Bagumbayan, Banbanan, Baraclayan, Bolocaue, Bugtong Naulid, Cagbang, Caitib, Cavite, Cubay, Cubay Ubos, Dawog, Durog, Frantilla, Guibongan, Igpuro, Igtuba, Indag-an, Kirayan Norte, Kirayan Tacas, Maricolcol, Onoc, Pungtod Monteclaro, Pundtod Naulid, Taal, Tatoy, Tigmarabo, Tumagboc, and Wayang.
The authors are Communications and Media Studies 131 (Writing News) students of UP Visayas under Dr. Zoilo Andrada.