Nineteen pilot sugarcane block farms posted an average increase of 29 percent in farm productivity in crop year 2013-2014 after a year-long participation in the block farming program, the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) reported on Monday.
Figures showed the block farms had an average increase from 50.78 tons cane per hectare (TC/Ha) to 65.29 TC/Ha during the period.
The SRA added that all the pilot block farms showed increases in productivity ranging from 7.47 percent to 100 percent after receiving capacity-building, technical assistance, farm planning, and farm management support provided by SRA.
In Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, the Hacienda Bernardita Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative registered a 7.47 percent increase—from its initial productivity of 77 TC/Ha to 82.75 TC/Ha.
The North Cluster Producers Cooperative in Paniqui, Tarlac posted a 100 percent increase in productivity from 50 TC/Ha to 100 TC/Ha.
According to the SRA, the average 29 percent increase in productivity translates to an estimated average increase of farmers’ income by P39,815 per hectare, at 1.96 Lkg per TC and a composite price of P1,400 per Lkg-bag of raw sugar.
Block farming, introduced in 2012 by the SRA in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agrarian Reform, is the consolidation of the management of small farms of less than five hectares, into a bigger but contiguous unit of at least 30 hectares for purposes of improving farm productivity while individual ownership is preserved.
Records of SRA showed about 85 percent of sugarcane farms in the country have areas five hectares and below due to the natural course of land subdivision by inheritance, sale, and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
The SRA said that while sugarcane is a plantation crop and its cost-efficiency is best achieved with bigger farm sizes of at least 30 hectares, with the aggressive implementation of the CARP, farm sizes are fragmented into small landholding of less than five hectares wherein farm owners can no longer take advantage of the economies of scale.
The situation is aggravated by the fact that most of the present land owners, who are agrarian reform beneficiaries, do not have the financial capability to provide the proper farm inputs which resulted in low productivity, it added.
At present, 130 block farms have enrolled for accreditation, with a total area of about 7,000 hectares.
Of the number, about 90 block farms will be assisted under the new SRA-DAR-DA convergence starting this month while about 50 block farms will be assisted under the Sugarcane Industry Development Act by next year.