CATANDUANES, April 26, 2021 – The Department of Agriculture – Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) Program vegetable growers of Catanduanes seem to have found gold in their communal gardens as they became sources of profit and augmented community access to healthier foods.
The SAAD community vegetable gardens function in two ways; first, the project uplifts marginal farmers to earn extra income for their family, and second, it gives access to the locals to fresh and healthy foods especially during the pandemic.
As a strategy, the farmers decided to harvest their crops earlier before Tropical Storm Surigae (Bising) hit the province.
The San Miguel SAADVFA
The San Miguel SAAD Vegetable Farmers Association (San Miguel SAADVFA) from Barangay San Miguel, Baras, harvested 1,413.20 kilograms (kg) of assorted vegetables (squash, cucumber, ampalaya, radish, pechay, upo, patola, sitaw) in their 15,420 square meter (sqm) communal gardens from March to mid-April.
The high-value crops (HVC) beneficiaries of the Program from Baras and Gigmoto in Catanduanes are now reaping their fruits of labor as they earn an accumulated amount of Php 50,171 from selling vegetable produce for the months of March and April.
The vegetable produce is apportioned between beneficiaries’ consumption (40%) and marketing, where 60% are brought to the local market or sold in their barangay. The San Miguel SAADVFA earned Php 33,951 from selling their vegetables since the inception of the project in October 2020.
“Kami po ay lubos na nagpapasalamat sa DA SAAD at sa lahat ng mga nagpapatupad nito dahil nakikita po namin na ang mga magsasaka sa aming bayan ay talagang nakikinabang sa mga asistensiyang pinamimigay ng SAAD. Mayroon nang nadadagdag na suplay ng gulay sa bayan; mayroon na ring naglalako ng mga gulay sa bara-barangay na nakakatulong sa mga maliliit na magsasaka. Ang pagkakaroon po ng suporta mula sa SAAD ay malaking tulong para lalo pang umusbong ang pagtatanim ng gulay dito sa bayan ng Baras,” shared by Mr. Pablo Tayangona, HVC Coordinator from the Baras Municipal Agriculture Office.
The Sioron HVCFA and SPFA
Two other associations from Gigmoto – the Sioron High Value Commercial Farmers Association (Sioron HVCFA) and the San Pedro Farmers Association (SPFA) – are also starting to generate income from their vegetable gardens since April.
The Sioron HVCFA earned Php 8,960 from their April 1 to 15 sales; while the SPFA gained Php 7,260 for the same period.
Ms. Leonor Martirez, a member of the Sioron HVCFA, mentioned that after their crops were damaged by the typhoons in 2020 and flooding in the first month of 2021, they are now starting to harvest vegetables from their communal gardens planted in January.
The supplemental vegetable seeds given in December 2020 to the group are meant to help them resume vegetable farming after the said calamities.
With a vegetable garden area of 220 square meters (sqm), the Sioron HVCFA harvested a total of 227.5kg of assorted vegetables, then sold 200kg within the community.
“May maganda namang naidulot ang lockdown dito, nakatuon na ang madami sa mga residente sa barangay Sioron sa pagtatanim. Limitado ang paglabas namin, hindi kami makapunta ng Virac dahil bawal at talagang napakamahal ng pamasahe. Kaya nagpapasalamat kami dahil nabenepisyuhan ng SAAD ang barangay Sioron. Lahat na ng kailangan namin sa pagtatanim: binhi, abono, mga garden tools, ibinigay na ng SAAD nang libre. Ang tanging kapalit na lamang ng mga ito ay ang patuloy kaming magsipag sa pagtatanim sapagkat nakakatulong ito sa amin. Iyon nga lang, nasira ang mga pananim noong bumagyo, pero nag-uumpisa na ulit kami kahit papaano,” Ms. Martirez added.
Meanwhile, the members of SPFA from Barangay San Pedro, Gigmoto harvested 385kg of assorted vegetables, selling 216kg and keeping 169kg for their family’s food consumption.
Table 1. Catanduanes FAs’ harvest and sales data
Writer: Sarah Jane C. Taway, DA SAAD Catanduanes – Information Officer
Sources: PPMO Catanduanes
Photo Sources: Sarah Jane C. Taway, Romy Judson G. Eusebio