Philex helps Tuba, Benguet farmers expand livelihood

>> Thursday, December 15, 2016

TUBA, Benguet – Through Philex Mining Corp.’s continuous support, a famers’ group in this town’s Barangay Camp 3 is expanding its livelihood project to include hog-raising by next year, in addition to a fish farm that it has managed successfully since 2011.
Pablo Alaoas, president of the Balding-Tokok Irrigators’ and Farmers’ Association (BATIFA), announced this at a fish harvest in the barangay’s Sitio Balding, saying his group is grateful for the seed capital of P150,000 that Philex Mining will grant within the first-half of 2017.
“We have finalized and submitted our proposal to Padcal, and we are confident that the company would continue helping us, as it has always done,” he added. “All of us at BATIFA, including our families, are thankful for all the help that Philex Mining has extended to us.”
He recalled how his group was able to realize its fish-farm project with an initial capital of P750,000 granted by Philex Mining, which had turned over the livelihood project to the 50-member BATIFA in 2014.
BATIFA, now composed of 57 farmer-beneficiaries from Sitios Balding and Tokok, harvested 800 kilos of tilapia on Thursday, Dec. 1, from one of its five fishponds built like terraces across 2,000 square meters of land in the hinterlands of Brgy. Camp 3. Visitors may access the community by crossing a hanging bridge from the main road of Kennon, and another shorter hanging bridge to reach the fishponds.
The livelihood projects being implemented by Philex Mining in its host and neighboring communities, in Tuba and Itogon, are made possible through the company’s Social Development and Management Program (SDMP).
The SDMP, the Information, Education and Communications (IEC) campaign, and the Development of Mining Technology and Geosciences (DMTG) for the current year eat up 1.5 percent of a miner’s total operating cost in the previous year. Getting a lion’s share of 75 percent of the government-mandated fund allocation, the SDMP also covers projects on health, environment, and public infrastructure, while IEC gets 15 percent and, DMTG, 10 percent.
During simple ceremonies conducted to celebrate the fish harvest attended by residents, local government officials, and other guests, Alaoas said his group is eager to start diversifying its livelihood projects through a continued partnership with Philex Mining, following the success of its fish farm, whose harvest is done every four to five months.
A tilapia fingerling, Alaoas said, costs between P1 and P120, and the four- or five-month-old tilapia is sold for P120 per kilo. “We haven’t sought any market other than our two sitios or even outside of our barangay, as we have had enough consumers here,” he stressed.
Proceeds from tilapia sales go toward a common fund, deposited in a bank, where BATIFA members may borrow money at a low interest rate, to be used as capital for their lemon farms and other livelihood activities.
In an earlier statement, Philex Mining said it had for 2016 allotted P82 million for projects under its SDMP, P33 million for its activities related to IEC, and P19 million for DMTG. These allocations bring the total value of Padcal operations’ social-projects partnerships with its outlying communities to P110 million, or 1.5 percent of Philex Mining’s operating expenses of P7.3 billion in 2015.


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