Puerto Princesa City is primarily an agricultural economy. It is almost self-sufficient in food, except for a few varieties of vegetables. Metro Manila’s ten million population get their fish and other marine supplies from the city in particular and Palawan in general. To improve the farmer’s quality of life, however, there exists the urgent need to introduce productivity enhancement programs.
Agricultural Development Program – The Program has three sub-sectors to insure effective implementation and continuity.
- Mango Development – it is designed to provide grafted mango seedlings to farmer-cooperators. To date, satellite nurseries in Barangays Luzviminda, Mangingisda, Napsan, Bagong-bayan, Maruyogon, San Rafael, and Langogan have been put up to bring the nursery services closer to their intended beneficiaries. Some 43, 407 mango seedlings have been distributed to farmers.
- Strengthening of Agro-based Cooperatives – The program conducted management trainings for cooperatives and helped organize and register them. It also held trainings/seminars on new technologies like food processing, hillside farming, backyard and bio-intensive gardening.
- Materials Inputs – To provide the mechanism to make readily available all the necessary agricultural inputs such as fertilizer, pesticides, and the like.
The farmers of Barangays Luzviminda and Mangingisda, Puerto Princesa City’s primary squatter relocation sites, are cases in point. Erstwhile squatters who were farmers once were given two hectares of agricultural lands to till. But with nothing else aside from the land, they became subsistence farmers, caught in a vicious cycle of poverty and want.
Being able to plant only crops whose seedlings they could scrounge from friends and relatives in an area as limited as manual tilling can afford, they would leave their lands to scour for food for their families’ daily sustenance. Everyday is a continuous scrimmage for food to last them till another day. Some three or four months after, they harvest what they have planted. But with the little that they could sow, they reap only as much, certainly not enough to provide them a good new start.
For many of the city’s similarly situated farmers, The Carabao and Tractor Pool was a big help. Now they could plant more crops in bigger patches of land. Since made available, the five tractors have helped 948 farmers plow and harrow 918.22 hectares of land. The 33 carabaos in the pool equally helped many farmers in innumerable measures.
To avail of the pool, the farmers have to group themselves into five or more. When their turn comes, they help each other plow and harrow one another’s field. Thus, they relearned the value of “bayanihan” and sharing the limited resources that they have come up with optimum harvest.
Whereas before each was highly individualistic, they have now learned to plan, pool resources and work together for their common good. They also realized that they have a reliable partner in food production and income enhancement – the City Government. Given the novelty of the idea, plans are now afoot to expand the program.
Cash for Work – This is a stopgap measure intended to sustain the families of farmers who are undergoing the transition from kaingin to legitimate farming.
Various other agricultural assistance programs – Financial and material, livelihood and self-employment assistance were likewise given to farmers in line with the city government’s poverty eradication program.
Marine Resources Protection – The Bantay Dagat Component of the Bantay Puerto Program, while primarily intended for marine resources protection, is a big boost to the city’s municipal fishermen. The Bantay Dagat protects the city’s seawaters against local and foreign poachers and illegal fishers, thus assuring continuous catch for them. The city government likewise provided pump boat engines, training on cage and in-land fishing, and credit facilities to many of the city’s fishermen.