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SMC awards Sumilao tillers portion of contested land

11/22/2010 [ tribune.net.ph ]
On the third anniversary of their dramatic march for land, the Panaw Sumilao farmers of Sumilao, Bukidnon received a total of 147 hectares of land which they plan to develop into a corn and cassava farm.
In 2007, the farmers marched from Sumilao to Manila to lay claim to an estate owned by food and beverage firm San Miguel Corp. (SMC), on which the company’s subsidiary, San Miguel Foods Inc. (SMFI), built a state-of-the-art hog farm.
In the end, San Miguel chose to simply donate a portion of the contested property to help alleviate the farmers’ plight. It also pledged to help them acquire more lands outside its property.
The farmers became landowners after SMC donated to them 50 hectares within its property. This was followed by the turnover to the farmers, as beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, of a total of 97 hectares outside the property, comprised of 84 hectares distributed in June and 13 hectares distributed recently.
The farmers received their certificates of land title from Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes, Undersecretary Jerry Pacturan and representatives from San Miguel Foods Inc. and the San Miguel Foundation.
Panaw Sumilao chairman Napoleon “Yoyong” Merida, said that the land will be used to plant corn and cassava.
He added that they already have a warehouse for harvested crops, a solar dryer, corn miller, corn shredder, mechanical dryer and a water system.
SMFI meanwhile said it can buy the farmers’ produce, primarily corn and cassava, for its feed raw material requirements.
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