One of the vegetable farms in Barangay Ocayan, part of the Social Development Management Program (SDMP) platform of Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) to help the farmers on generating income through market-oriented farming.

Bataraza farmers are learning new ways to increase their productivity.

With the help of the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) through its Social Development Management Program (SDMP), farmers in five villages are now planting bell peppers, chili peppers, eggplants, bitter gourd (ampalaya), string beans and tomatoes that are supplied to SM City in Puerto Princesa City.

Reynaldo Dela Rosa, RTNMC community relations manager, said that the company support extends up to marketing of the farmers’produce.

One of the main commodities for gourmet cuisines, bell peppers are the farm’s biggest produce. Through concessionaire, they are able to supply vegetables to SM Hypermarket in Puerto Princesa and other local markets and restaurants around the province.

“Nasanay kasi sila sa subsistence farming, na kung saan magtatanim lang sila para may makain sa araw-araw; kaya hindi ganoon kabigat ang trabaho nila. When we engaged them into market-oriented farming, nanibago sila dahil mas maramihan ang production lalo na may mga ilan kaming sinusuplayan [ng gulay], ” dela Rosa said.

The program covers Barangays Iwahig, Ocayan, Sandoval, Sarong and Sumbiling with one hectare per farm dedicated to vegetable farming.

The program started in 2014, Dela Rosa said adding that it was challenging to encourage local farmers to shift to new ways of farming from their traditional ways.

“Napakalaking adjustment talaga ang ginagawa namin, lalo na’t ayaw pa namin sila bitawan sa mga suppliers. We are worried na dahil ayaw nila ng mahabang usapan or recordings, magkakaroon sila ng mindset na ‘sige na lang ibigay na lang namin sa ganitong presyo’ for the sake na lang na matapos ang usapan, ” he said.

RTNMC conducted trainings for farmers on market-oriented farming.

Although still unripe, these tomatoes will be ready for harvest in less than a week.

Dela Rosa admitted that it will take time for farmers to adopt to the new strategies.

“Ang community kasi hindi naman magbabago ng mindset sa isang iglap lang. Yes, mabagal ang training process. But if they will be able to understand the value of what they own on this manner, then sulit naman lahat ng effort na ilalaan mo sa kanila. Ang gusto lang kasi namin is ang magkaroon sila ng sense of ownership at maging responsible sila sa mga bagay na ibinibigay sa kanila. Hinihikayat namin sila magtrabaho na maliban sa araw-araw na makakain ay meron din silang source of income na pwede nilang magamit sa pagbili ng gamut, or damit ng kanilang mga anak. We want to teach them to become independent and be able to stand on their own through our guidance, ” he added.

Dela Rosa said they plan to expand the project by extending it to other farms and develop it into farm tourism sites.

“Maliban sa pagtatanim ng mga high-valued crops, we will be engaging on flower farming; tapos pwede rin mag-establish ng palaisdaan. Then if may mga over supplied na products, pwede natin siya i-undergo ng processing. The goal is to promote farm tourism and at the same time iyong tinatawag na market-oriented farming, ” he also said.

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