Construction of P30M Paracelis corn feed plant to start
By Angel A. Baybay
Paracelis, Mountain Province– Infrastructure works for the province’s P30 million Corn Feed Mill is set to immediately start after the ground breaking ceremony last October 29 at sitio Sinigpit, Butigue in this municipality.
Jointly funded by the national government’s Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) through the Department of Agriculture – CAR and the provincial government, the facility will be built on a three hectare lot recently procured by the provincial government.
As an agriculture related venture, PAMANA released P30 million to the regional agriculture office. Of the amount, two percent (2%) was retained by DA-CAR to defray administrative expenses while ninety percent (90%) of the remaining amount was down-loaded to the provincial treasury. The other ten percent (10%) will soon find its way to the provincial coffers upon the liquidation of the initial tranche.
The released amount shall be used to finance the building of an open shade storage and warehouse for machineries. A part shall also be utilized to purchase vehicles and the needed equipment and machines. Capitalization and loans to farmer beneficiaries shall likewise be taken from the release.
For its part, the provincial government chipped in 18,725,000 pesos to the project. A big chunk of it was used to procure, develop and secure the three hectare land. Salaries for personnel who will manage the project shall likewise be withdrawn from provincial government appropriation until such time that the plant could generate income to fund its operation.
A separate amount was likewise included in next year’s budget to bankroll the construction of an administration building.
Governor Leonard Mayaen shared that the project was conceptualized after a visit to Paracelis three years ago upon receiving reports that corn farmers who, despite their vast tract of land, could hardly earn enough to sustain their basic daily needs. “I came to know of the farmers’ plight in a visit here in 2013. In one of my project inspection trips Palitud barangay chairman Andrew Pudlao asked if the provincial government could help the corn producers by way of providing low interest loans and assisting them market their produce. Immediately, we made the concept paper which was eventually acted positively by the OPAPP,” the governor said.
In line with the national government’s PAMANA program shall not only result to boosting the economy of the eastern part of the province. It is equally expected to address issues relative to armed conflict that gradually paves way to an environment of peace and prosperity.
Paracelis, verified reports point out, is frequented by armed groups and is home to many Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) members. Fifty members of the CPLA from barangays Butigue, Palitod, Anonat, and Bananao shall be selected to form the core of farmer beneficiaries who will be qualified to avail of the loan granted under the program.
These identified beneficiaries will plant corn in at least a hectare of land and sell their produce to the corn mill for processing. The processed product will then be sold to feed dealers in the province and the nearby provinces of Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya. In the province alone, a survey reveals that feed suppliers buy 67,800 bags of feed in one year.
Aside from helping the identified beneficiaries, the project is seen to motivate small and medium entrepreneurs to venture into selling farm inputs and establish businesses that would process by-products of the feed mill such as corn cobs.
The operationalization of the mill is also expected to wean the farmers away from the hands of unscrupulous traders and middlemen who supply inputs with prohibitive cost and lend money with extortionate interest.
For the past many years, the rolling hills of Paracelis had been abundantly planted to corn but the onerous and oppressive practices of the “corn Mafia” left no gain to the local folks. “We work from dawn to dusk but a big chunk of our produce is used to pay our inputs. What is left could not afford us even the simplest luxuries of rural life. We simply hope that this project will in a way bail us out and enable our children to finish their studies,” a farmer quipped when asked to comment.
The project will be managed by employees whose positions will be created by the provincial government. Although the soon to be created positions will be open to all interested applicants, the governor bared that CPLA members who meet the minimum requirements will be given priority as part of their reintegration to mainstream society.
OPAPP Undersecretary Maria Cleofe Gettie Sandoval who was on hand to give her message thanked all parties who made the project a reality. “I am elated to be here. Travelling to far-flung places to bring peace and development is what we are working for,” Sandoval said.
Aside from the 30 million feed mill fund, OPAPP likewise released budgetary requirements for various infrastructure projects in the past years. Among the OPAPP funded projects are the Besao-Abra road opening, Bontoc-Mainit road improvement, Tuboy (Natonin)-Aguinaldo (Ifugao) road improvement and some community projects. An amount was also earmarked to finance livelihood projects of identified individuals but it is yet to be given to the beneficiaries due to the absence of guidelines governing its implementation.
The regional office of the Department of Agriculture, in a show of oneness, promised to help in the provision of farm inputs. During the ground breaking program, DA-CAR Director Lorenzo Caranguian announced that he will give 100 sacks of corn seeds procured from the Cagayan Valley. “These are certified seeds which I believe will increase the quality and quantity of your produce,” Lorenzo declared.
On top of the material and financial backing, DA-CAR and OPAPP will also provide technical assistance to ensure the sustainability of the plant.
Meanwhile governor Mayaen bared that the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAG) and Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO) will put up nurseries within the three hectare lot. The governor explained that the OPAG nursery will produce seeds and seedlings for farmers who may be interested in fruit or vegetable production. On the other hand, the ENRO nursery will propagate seedlings to reforest the denuded hills and mountains.