By Julio P. Yap Jr.
A partnership was recently sealed in an effort to directly benefit the concerned students of a government university in Kabankalan City, including the small farmers living around the campus.
This welcome development came out after the Central Philippines State University (CPSU) in Barangay Camingawan, Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a private company and various non-government organizations (NGOs) for the production of organic or natural muscovado sugar. The other signatories include the Bacolod City-based RU Foundry and Machine Shop Corporation (RUFMSC), Ecological and Agricultural Development Foundation, Inc. (Eco-Agri), Multi-Sectoral Alliance for Development-Negros (MUAD-Negros), and the Kabang Kalikasan ng Pilipinas Foundation, Inc. or the KKP (WWF-Philippines).
The MOU signing activity carried the theme “Community-Based Industry and Development Through Life-Changing Technologies.” Since the thrusts of CPSU include, among others, the promotion of best practices on organic farming, and processing/development of organic food products, it corroborated with the said entities for the production of organic muscovado sugar.
According to Dr. Aladino C. Moraca, a CPSU professor and concurrently the operations manager of the Muscovado Production Project in the campus, the community-based production of the commodity became possible through the “life-changing” technology shared by Eco-Agri, a vital arm of RUFMSC.
It was learned that the old muscovado processing facility of CPSU was modified, using the technology introduced by RUFMSC chairman of the board Ramon D. Uy Sr., to become fully operational and sustainable.
To sustain the production of organic muscovado sugar, CPSU has committed to provide at least another 0.5-hectares of land within the campus for the implementation of the research project on organic sugarcane. This is of course with the related assistance of MUAD-Negros, KKP/WWF Philippines, and Eco-Agri, together with the concerned municipal governments and agencies who also wanted to implement the technology.
During the recent signing of the MOU at the CPSU Campus, among those present were Moraca; Dr. Narissa Lemonsito, assistant provincial project manager of the Implementation Unit of the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP) in Negros Occidental; Marina I. Canson, chairperson of the Crossing Ibus Farmers Cooperative (CIFC) in Kabankalan City;
Reynic Alo, executive director of MUAD-Negros; Joel M. Palma, chief executive officer of KKP/WWF Philippines; Ramon D. Uy Sr.; CPSU president Freddie C. Maningo; Isabela (Negros Occidental) Municipal Mayor Joselito Y. Malabor; Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Region-6 Assistant Regional Director for Support Services Antonio Del Socorro; and DAR Region-6 Assistant Regional Director for Administrative and Legal Ronald M. Gareza.
The partnership covers the implementation of research projects on organic sugarcane production, processing of natural muscovado sugar, skills development and enhancement of out-of-school youth, students, farmers, agrarian reform beneficiaries and fisherfolk.
Moraca says that these can be attained through hands-on training and coaching on appropriate and best farming practices, entrepreneurship development, research extension and actual production.
However, CPSU will be providing the equipment needed, financial (for the payment of labor, input materials, and related expenditures), including technical support for the implementation of the research project on organic sugarcane production.
After the MOU signing at the function hall of the university, the ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the nearby Muscovado Processing Facility of CPSU, which was led by May Aileen S. Uy, wife of Ramon Uy Sr.
Following the ceremonial ribbon cutting, the actual production of organic muscovado sugar commenced where the facility was manned by the concerned students who were earlier trained utilizing the “life-changing” technology shared by RUFMSC. Aside from the knowledge gained by the students, they can now earn a modest income to support their respective needs, Moraca says.
Besides the production of natural muscovado sugar, RUFMSC also assisted in the proper way of disposing of the bagasse using a shredder machine.
Bagasse is the fibrous material which remains after the sugarcane stalks have been crushed to extract the juice, which can be used as alternative fuel for cooking when thoroughly dried.
Moraca says that the partnership is expected to hone the skills of the students, as well as provide an additional source of income for the small farmers and their respective families who are living around the main campus of the premier state university in Kabankalan City.
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s January 2018 issue.