In Bago City, Negros Occidental, DOLE releases P600-K for farmers’ lemon grass essential oil project Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday announced that the DOLE Regional Office No. 6 has released a livelihood grant of P600,000 to the Nakalang Padilla Farm Workers Association (NAPFWA) in Bago City, Negros Occidental, to help the group improve its production of lemon grass essential oil. “The farmers will use the amount to construct a micro hydro power facility. This is a small-scale energy production facility that harnesses the natural flow of water to run the association’s essential oil distillation plant. With its own power source, the farmers will increase their production of the essential oil,” said Baldoz, citing a report of Ponciano Ligutom, Jr., Regional Director of DOLE Region 6. Baldoz said the award of the livelihood grant is a DOLE strategy to enhance access of vulnerable workers to livelihood aimed at strengthening their social protection. “Through convergence, the DOLE facilitates and provides access to livelihood opportunities to shield vulnerable workers and their families from risks due to natural and man-made disasters and enable them to improve their their lives with better access to social protection and sustainable income sources,” she said. In his report, Director Ligutom said the group’s production of lemon grass essential oil project was initially funded out of the pooled cash bonuses of the members, all sugar farm workers. “The livelihood has grown into a community-based enterprise and has become viable, hence, this assistance,” said Ligutom, who added that the DOLE regional office helped build the capacity of the Association’s officers and members in carrying out and sustaining the project. “We approved the Association’s proposal for the construction of the hydro power facility that will improve production because we saw the viability of the enterprise,” Ligutom explained. Sandrich Cornelio, NAPFWA chairman, received the P600,000 check representing the grant, during a simple turn-over ceremony held at the Association’s regular general assembly in Brgy. Ilijan, Bago City. Some 100 members of the Association, including its partners and other stakeholders witnessed the turnover. “We are, indeed, very happy for the DOLE assistance. We can already start with the construction of facility that will help increase our efficiency in the production of essential oil from lemon grass. This surely is a big break for the Association,” Cornelio said, promising to use the grant as proposed. “Our vision is to help NAPFWA become more independent and self-reliant in promoting the welfare and improving the lives of its members,” Cornelio said. END/Amalia N. Judicpa

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