QUINAPONDAN, EASTERN SAMAR – Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program and Special Projects Coordination and Management Assistance Division (SPCMAD) of the Department of Agriculture looked into the status of SAAD’s implementation in the province of Eastern Samar on March 22, 2018.
Staff from the national, regional, and provincial levels visited Barangays Sta. Margarita and Bagte in the municipality of Quinapondan to check the enhanced rice and sustainable production projects of the province’s SAAD farmer-beneficiaries.
In Barangay Sta. Margarita, SAAD and SPCMAD staff met 47-year-old Rufino Habagat, Jr., president of Sta. Margarita Farmers’ Association, busy harvesting his crops planted in a one-hectare tenancy land. An estimate of 50 cavans, each weighing 50kg, has been harvested on that day, however, he will be sharing more than half of those to two landlords. In his previous harvest last season, he only harvested 45 sacks. He plans to sell 10 cavans of rice to the market.
Habagat, Jr. shared how difficult his family’s life. Some of his five children stopped attending school due to financial problems. Aside from farming, he is also a fisherman and he usually goes to the sea three times a week. He earns Php 200 per 2kg of fish.
Aside from Habagat, Jr., seven other members of the association – Miguel Lumagbas, Tomas Somono, Roberto Habagat, Ernesto Cabarillo, Hernando Pillero Saturnino Macawili, and Jose Parizal – were also present that day. All have received one sack of certified rice seeds, six sacks of organic fertilizers, three sacks of complete fertilizers, muriate of potash, and urea. Majority of them don’t own their half-hectare farmlands. They also expect that their yield will increase, just like Somono, who anticipates a harvest of 20 cavans compared to the usual 12 cavans.
Some members also attended a training conducted by the local farmer technician on December 22, 2017, wherein they learned about the application of fertilizers, land preparation, and the use of 20 x 20 marker when planting. On April 6, they are about to attend a training that SAAD will conduct. As president of the association, Habagat, Jr. encouraged other members to participate, saying: “Sa kapwa ko magsasaka ngayon darating ng seminar ng SAAD umattend tayo para din sa dadag kaalaman para sa pagtatanim ng palay at para na din sa ating karagdagang kita.”
They are all expecting to harvest this April 2018. Most of them use their produce for their family’s food consumption. They sometimes sell two sacks of rice for their other needs. Each sack, weighing 50kg, is sold at Php 1,800 to Php 2,000.
Meanwhile, in Barangay Bagte, SAAD and SPCMAD met 39 year-old Luzviminda Pabello and 66 year-old Franscisco Baillo, who both received three goats each on December 2017. Pabello said, “Nung bagong dating nga po yung bigay na kambing e meron na nga pong gustong bumili. Di po pwede kasi nga po, padadamihin.”
At present, one of Pabello’s goats is pregnant. Although all of her goats have coughs and colds due to the cold weather, she exclaimed that there is a veterinarian from government checking up on them. It is not her first time raising animals. In fact, she already bred chickens, pigs, and carabaos.
Both Pabello and Baillo have other sources of income, mostly from copra production in a land they don’t own. They harvest every three months and they share 50% of their yield to the landlord.
Pabello also plants rootcrops, such as gabi, kamoteng-kahoy, kamote, and the like. She was able to sell Php 400 per can of gabi, which is being harvested every year. She also sells Php 100 per can of kamoteng kahoy, which can be harvested twice in a year.
On the other hand, Baillo has a backyard vegetable garden in which he plants petsay, eggplant, and pumpkin. He is able to harvest 200 wraps of petsay, which can be sold at Php 15 per wrap.
Although they have other sources of income, they are still one of the poorest of the poor in the province; not being able to meet the Php 8,391 monthly poverty threshold for a family of five in Eastern Samar.
They are about to receive napier grass for pasture purposes, as part of the SAAD’s Sustainable Goat Production soon.
Most of the 15 other beneficiaries who are also part of the project had goat fatalities due to a disease called orf. Orf is an exanthemous disease caused by a parapox virus and occurring primarily in sheep and goats. Only Pabello and Baillo’s goats haven’t suffered the same incident.
SAAD Eastern Samar Provincial Coordinator Jeanrose G. Basilan explained, “Yung delivery po e saktong December, e malamig po dito tapos maulan pa kaya marami po talagang namatay (at nagkasakit).”
Despite the unfortunate events, they are still thankful for what SAAD Eastern Samar had given them. Pabello said, “Nagpapasalamat po ako sa SAAD na naging benepisyaro po kami nila, tulad po nito na nagbigay sila ng livelihood para sa amin. Karagdagang pangkabuhayan naming na balang araw e mapagkukunan naming ng pinansyal.”
Sta. Margarita Farmers’ Association president Rufino Habagat, Jr. also professed his gratitude to the government, saying “Nagpapasalamat po kami kay Pres. Duterte na nagbigay ng ganitong programa, nagbigay ng mga input sa mga magsasaka. Madami na po kasing naitutulong ang programa kung noon po maliit ang kita ngayon po nadagdagan na po ito.”
Writer: Jhomai Canlas, SAAD PR & Communications Officer