Wednesday, September 19, 2018

30 hectares to enrich farmers

Thirty hectares are being developed in Pampanga to serve as models for farmers to get out of poverty and earn a good income. It is being spearheaded by the Kapampangan Development Foundation (KDF), which has an excellent track record over the last 30 years. This project is called KDF 30 Model Farms.

The KDF history is impressive. Its most significant achievement is putting up the only hospital in Southeast Asia which gives totally free treatment for the handicapped. So far, it has provided 130,000 surgeries.


Its slogans are “Walking Free,” where they offer prosthetics or artificial legs and feet to those who cannot walk; “Seeing Free,” where they treat cataract, pterygium and glaucoma cases; “Smiling Free,” where they provide cleft surgery in cooperation with Operation Smile, and “Hearing Free,” which will be launched in October to address hearing disabilities. This was done in partnership with Physicians for Peace.

Though KDF had a difficult time raising funds for the free treatments, it now has an arrangement which it offers as a model for other charity hospitals. Because of the sin taxes now collected by the government, Philhealth has become an indispensable sustainable partner in caring for the handicapped.

KDF started 30 years ago with a unique model. They looked for successful people who were born in Pampanga but left the province and found success in Metro Manila. The objective was to harness these people’s talents and resources to improve the plight of the province where they grew up. Among its founders were former Trade Secretary Roy Navarro, former Education Secretary Andrew Gonzales, former Public Works and Highways Secretary Jose de Jesus, former Clark Development Corp. president Benigno Ricafort, former Ateneo Law dean and Government Owned and Controlled Corporations head Cesar Villanueva, accounting firm founder Jose Araullo, and entrepreneur Jose Ricafort. Navarro served as the first chair. He was succeeded by Manuel Pangilinan, the current chair.

KDF was founded with the full support of President Cory Aquino to prepare for the expected closing down of Clark Airbase. When Mt. Pinatubo erupted, President Aquino asked KDF to help because of its extensive network. KDF not only helped in the rehabilitation of Pampanga, it also ventured into addressing the health needs in the area. For its 30th year, KDF will go into agriculture. It intends to make the KDF 30 Model Farms replicable in other parts of Region 3 to show that agriculture can be a very profitable enterprise, even for a one-hectare farm.

The KDF will sponsor 30 farmers in different parts of Pampanga. Each must have the financial capability to put up a model farm which others can learn from. They will plant hybrid coconuts and focus on five high value crops: cacao, mangosteen, durian, rambutan, and lanzones (the duco and longkong varieties). For quicker revenue flows, they will plant vegetables and raise poultry, livestock and fish in small ponds.

Though all the financial requirements will be provided by the owners themselves, they will be given the latest and most cost-effective technologies. This will include soil conditioning, probiotics, organic fertilizer (e.g. vermiculture), drip irrigation, and water harvesting. In exchange, they will serve as model farms to others.

KDF has already made arrangements with different government agencies such as Philippine Coconut Authority, the Department of Agriculture (DA)’s High Value Crops Program, the Bureau of Plant Industry, and the National Cacao Council spearheaded by DA and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Among its partners in the private sector are the 5-coalition Agri-Fisheries Alliance (the most important being the Alyansa Agrikultura with 42 federations of farmers and fisherfolk, and the Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines with science and technology from universities and research centers across the country), the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Pampanga Rotary Clubs.

Just as the KDF offers its model for free medical assistance to the handicapped, KDF wishes that the KDF 30 Model Farms will be replicated in other parts of the country with the help of the DA and DTI. A main reason for the poverty of our farmers is that they have little access to the latest cost-effective technologies, which the KDF 30 Model Farms project wishes to address. It is time that the private sector, with government support, takes the initiative in agriculture development which our country sorely lacks.

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TAGS: farmers, Kapampangan Development Foundation (KDF), KDF 30 Model Farms, Pampanga, Poverty, Thirty hectares
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