OCCIDENTAL MINDORO, April 22, 2021 – Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Director Myer G. Mula of the Department of Agriculture (DA) visited Barangay Balao, Abra de Ilog as soon as community restrictions eased to monitor livelihood projects.
Brgy. Balao, where the association is situated, is one of the 19 End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) areas in the province.
SAAD swine production and farm machinery beneficiaries from the said municipality welcomed the team and discussed their progress and plans in terms of enterprise and infrastructure investments.
Director Mula was joined by MIMAROPA Regional Technical Director Elmer Ferry, Municipal Agriculture Officer (MAO) Julius Judelito Amodia, and other field implementers in the national and regional offices.
The women of Balao for Swine Production
The Blessed Corean Swine Raisers Association (BCSRA) members and chairperson showcased their swine pen and retail outlet they received from the SAAD project awarded in September 2019. The pen, built in April 2021, is located in Sitio Core, Brgy. Balao.
Starting from 10 gilts, the association is now raising 58 sows. The group plans to establish additional swine pens to have more room for their growing production.
Director Mula encouraged the farmers to lean more towards entrepreneurship to ensure the sustainability of the project and increase income.
The group also expands its enterprise by constructing a retail outlet (DOLE-funded project) where the beneficiaries sell feeds and other veterinary products.
To keep the animals healthy, Director Mula emphasized the need for greener and healthier feeds and forage. In this light, a seed donation will be facilitated to supplement the requirement of the beneficiaries for the cultivation of the said feeds and forage.
He also reminded the team to outsource swine within the area as a bio-security measure.
The BCSRA is a DOLE registered farmers’ association comprising 40 rural women farmers. From 2019 active operations up to this date, it already raised around 70 swine and earned an estimated Php 300,000 in total.
The association hopes to upgrade its retail outlet into a meat production shop to sell pork products in addition to feeds and veterinary products.
Indigenous Iraya-Mangyan for Farm Machinery Service
In the same barangay, near the BCSRA pen and outlet, is home to the Iraya Mangyan indigenous community where the Arya Makina Farmers Association is located.
With 42 members, they decided to venture on providing farm service to clients nearby through the machinery intervention. The group owns a rice transplanter, three hand tractors with trailers, three rice threshers, and five pumps and engines. The provision is under the Equipment and Post-Facility Harvest of SAAD FY 2019.
The association is getting stable farm service demand and earns around Php 20,000-30,000 per cropping season since they started operating in 2019. The income they earned was used to construct a shed for their farm implements. The group also apportions their earning to emergency repair and maintenance to prevent service disruption.
Additional training specifically on mechanization, proper handling of equipment, and collaboration with the local government unit (LGU) is seen to be essential for their improvement.
Turnover of Native Chicken Multiplier Farm
Capping the first leg of monitoring activities in Occidental Mindoro is a turnover ceremony of the Native Chicken Multiplier Farm Project for 18 Iraya-Mangyan members of Piggy Growers Association in Brgy. Balao.
The multiplier farm will be managed by the beneficiaries with assistance from the Abra de Ilog LGU.
The stocks were delivered in a chicken coop lent by the barangay LGU to assist supplemental livelihood resources of the marginalized beneficiaries (aside from their SAAD swine raising project).
The area, which houses 500 improved free-range chickens, measures around 500 square meters (m2).
The project amounting to an estimated Php 900,000 consists of 500 native chickens and supplementary materials (31 rolls of HDPE plastic mesh, 77 bags of pullets, 128 bags of darak, and 100 bags of corn grits) funded under SAAD FY 2020.
In the ceremony, Director Mula expressed his delight to the beneficiaries and SAAD provincial staff, and the Municipal LGU not only for the evident progress in terms of physical investments and building socio-cultural capital but also, for contributing to the food security of their own communities.
While he underscored the importance of farmers and their food produce especially during the ongoing health crisis, he posed a challenge to the locals to engage actively in the market, gradually scoring bigger projects, and finally be considered as frontrunners of agricultural product providers in their region.
Finally, Abra de Ilog MAO Ms. Amodia shares her plans for the beneficiaries. She wants the organizations to develop or strengthen their monitoring system, hold regular report meetings with the SAAD regional staff, and maintain open collaboration with the LGU.
She also highlighted the importance of further training, especially to the indigenous Mangyan beneficiaries and associations.
Gearing towards enterprise development, the organizations plan to engage in value-adding workshops hoping to expand the SAAD intervention in Abra de Ilog, and give opportunities to more indigenous communities, reduce poverty incidence, and relieve malnutrition cases in their community. ###
Jessamae Gabon, SAAD NPMO Information Officer
Dianne Francis Sy, SAAD MIMAROPA Information Officer
Wily Adrian E. Vergara, Abra de Ilog SAAD Area Coordinator