Friday, June 19, 2020

Ex-NPAs venture into vegetable farming in Agusan Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 19, 2020): Ex-NPAs venture into vegetable farming in Agusan Norte (By Alexander Lopez)

FARMING TECHNIQUES. Junie Ellevera Awa (sitting, center) a vegetable farm owner in Barangay Malapong, Buenavista in Agusan del Norte, shares his knowledge and expertise on vegetable farming to the 20 former rebels during the two-day exposure and educational tour on Wednesday (June 17, 2020). The activity is spearheaded by the Army's 23rd Infantry Battalion. (Photo courtesy of 23IB)

BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte – While waiting to complete the processing of their benefits through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP), some 20 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels have ventured into vegetable gardening to prepare them as they go back to their respective families and communities.

1Lt. Roel T. Maglalang, civil-military operations officer of the Army's 23rd Infantry Battalion, said the former rebels were provided with spaces near their headquarters in Barangay Alubihid, Buenavista town for vegetable farming.

“They expressed their desire to venture into vegetable farming and asked us if they could be provided with knowledge and technologies for improved production,” Maglalang told the Philippine News Agency in an interview Friday (June 19).

He said the former rebels availed of free seeds from the Department of Agriculture in the Caraga Region (DA-13) through the "Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) Kontra sa Covid-19" program, or the popularly-known "Plant, Plant, Plant" program.

During the lockdown, Maglalang said the former rebels managed to support the food requirements of the other surrenderers inside the camp, even including the soldiers.

After seeing the potentials of vegetable farming, he said the rebels expressed interest to learn more about new agricultural technologies to boost their skills.

“We launched the two-day exposure for the former rebels that started last Wednesday (June 17) in a vegetable farm in Buenavista,” Maglalang added.

The vegetable farm is owned by Junie Ellevera Awa in Barangay Malapong, Buenavista, one of the sources of assorted vegetables in the markets in Agusan del Norte and Butuan City.

“The activity provided the former rebels with different farming strategies that would help improve the productivity of their vegetable gardens under the livelihood program they are working inside the headquarters of 23IB,” Maglalang said.

He pointed out that vegetable gardening will not only help the former rebels and their families sustain their food needs, but also make them productive individuals as they prepare for their integration into their respective communities.

Among the former rebels who ventured into vegetable farming was “Carding”, a former NPA fighter under the Guerrilla Front (GF) 4A of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC).

“Vegetable farming will help us when we go back to our families and communities),” Carding was quoted by the 23IB as saying.

Carding also expressed gratitude to the government for allowing them to learn new techniques and technologies on vegetable farming.

Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo, 23Ib commander, said he was elated over the "learning experiences" of the former rebels "that will become their tools in improving farm productivity and increased income once they will be home in their communities".

“I encourage the former rebels to take seriously the impart knowledge and technique in proper planting of vegetables,” Paulo added.

Paulo also hopes the bright prospects awaiting the former rebels would serve as "show windows to NPA rebels who continue to be captives of the rotten ideology of the communist movement".

He said the remaining NPA fighters in the mountain should "follow the footsteps of the former rebels who abandoned the communist movement and are now embracing renewed lives with their families and communities".

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