OCCIDENTAL MINDORO, August 3, 2021 – Two indigenous Mangyan farmers’ associations (FA) in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro received the first set of caraheifer (female carabaos) comprising 35 heads from the Department of Agriculture – Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) Program on July 26.
The Samahang Buhid at Hanunuo ng Brgy. Naibuan (SBHBN) with 28 members and Samahang Magsasaka ng Sitio Ibanag (SMSI) with 27 members received the draft animals in Sitio Naitan, a neighboring sitio near Brgy. Naibuan, San Jose.
Brgy. Naibuan, where the beneficiaries reside, is one of the 19 End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) areas in Occidental Mindoro.
Despite the challenging terrain made worse by the bad weather, the Buhid-Hanunuo Mangyan beneficiaries of the program pressed forward through rivers and rocky roads to get their long-awaited caraheifers to aid them in their cassava farming.
The two associations were scheduled to receive 60 heads of caraheifers (30 for each group) if not for the inclement weather impeding the delivery. The second batch of caraheifers (25 head) will be awarded as soon as the weather improves and the roads become more accessible.
The project which costs Php 2,064,000 aims to help the IPs with their cassava production to aid farm labor since machinery is not ideal for the land the beneficiaries used to cultivate due to its terrain.
“Ang SAAD ay espesyal na programa na tutulong sa inyo (mga katutubo) na magkaroon ng hanapbuhay at maging matagumpay,” [SAAD is a special program to help you (IPs) to have a livelihood and be successful], said SAAD Regional Technical Director for Operations Engr. Elmer T. Ferry during the awarding ceremony at Sitio Naitan.
Occidental Mindoro Governor Eduardo Gadiano emphasized that poverty is widespread among areas with armed conflict. In response, the DA-SAAD livelihood assistance is aimed at encouraging community members to engage in agriculture as an alternative income resource. This is seen as a step to empower community members despite threats to peace and order in their communities.
Mangyan Affairs representative Roger Calaranan, National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) Focal Person Angelita Altayo, San Jose Municipal Agriculturist Romel Calingasan, and Provincial ELCAC coordinator Voltaire Valdez were present during the awarding. The activity was escorted by the 4th Infantry Battalion 2nd Division.
Angelito Ero and Ronnie Furtunato, chairpersons of SBHBN and SMSI, respectively, expressed their gratitude on behalf of their members. “Nagpapasalamat kami sa Diyos at sa SAAD sa mga tulong na natatanggap namin. Malaking tulong ito dahil matagal na naming hinihiling na magkaroon ng kalabaw para mapadali ang aming pagsasaka.”[We thank God and SAAD for the help that we receive. This is a great help because we have always wanted to have caraheifers to make our farm labors easier.]
The SBHBN, and SMSI FAs became SAAD beneficiaries in 2020 and received 150,000 pieces of cassava cuttings in support for their cassava production and other alternative livelihoods such as lowland vegetable seeds, improved free-range chicken, improved native goat, and plastic mesh. ###
Writer: Dianne Francis A. Sy, SAAD Information Officer I
Source: Jercel N. Catubig, SAAD Area Coordinator – San Jose, Shuntle Ray S. Oetinger, PGO Junior Photographer I