Getting to know the SAAD farmers and their projects in the Samar Province

SAMAR – A group of people from the Special Area for the Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program and Special Project Coordination and Management Assistance Division (SPCMAD) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) conducted interviews and field visits in different municipalities in the Samar province to see the status of livelihood interventions given to the SAAD beneficiaries.

In Barangay Pequit, Paranas

In Barangay Pequit in the municipality of Paranas, the group met 38-year-old Rodrigo Ercibuche, founder of Uswag Pequit Association. The organization started off in February 2017 so that its 20 pioneer members could reach out to the government, especially to the Department of Agriculture.

Uswag Pequit Association’s members

At present, the association has 54 members, in which 15 of them just recently joined because of the hope that SAAD Program in Samar brought to them.

Coconut production is their main source of income while peanut is only planted every now and then. They sell their peanut produce to nearby barangays, which are known for delicacies such as peanut rolls, peanut butter, and the classic piñato.

Aside from farming, most of them earn as part-time truck drivers with a Php 200 per day salary.

The magic of a multicultivator

The organization received a multicultivator under SAAD Samar’s Sustainable Peanut Production project on February 7, 2018. The members have also attended a demo training for the equipment on January 2018.

The multicultivator made the organization members’ lives easier as it cuts down their work days. Uswag Pequit Association president Cesar Mabini is a living proof of it…

Maganda ngayon kasi hindi na paulit-ulit. Mas mabilis nang apat na araw (kumpara sa pag-aararo).

Mabini said the 10-liter diesel capacity of the multicultivator can last for a whole day, making it very cost- and time-efficient.

At present, the organization’s members use the machine for vegetable gardening since SAAD Samar hasn’t delivered the peanut seeds and fertilizers yet. Samar AC Kristine Danago added that the Samar provincial local government unit will procure the said interventions since fund was downloaded to the office in 2017.

Maintaining the equipment

Uswag Pequit Association has issued a Php 200 multicultivator usage fee per day. Its members are also entitled to pay a monthly membership fee of Php 20. Ercibuche said they plan to open a bank account for their association’s funds that will be used for the maintenance of the equipment, for their future plans, and for emergency purposes.

One thing that he wishes is strong cooperation from his fellow farmers not only for the success of the project but also for the prosperity of their livelihood.

“Suportahan kung ano ang programa ng SAAD kasi hindi naman ito para sa akin, para sa atin lahat ito para ma-promote naman ang province ng Samar”, Ercibuche exclaimed.

According to SAAD Samar AC Kristine Danago, there are 300 sustainable peanut production beneficiaries in Paranas. Other farmers’ organizations that received multicultivators in Paranas are Tutubigan Farmers’ Association, Casandig Upland Farmers’ Association, and Tigbawon Farmers’ Association. There are also another 300 beneficiaries each of the same project in five other municipalities of the Samar province.

In Barangay Pabanog, Paranas

Thirty-nine-year-old Florita Abaratige and her husband, Antonieto, live normal farmer lives in Barangay Pabanog, Paranas.  They support their two children through farming in a 1.5-hectare rice tenancy land. Florita sells packed peanuts and can earn a maximum of Php 300 per day while Antonieto works in construction as part-time job.

They started farming since their first child was born 16 years ago. Half of their produce are usually given to the landlord while the rest will be allocated for food consumption. However, they also sell some of their harvests when money is not sufficient for their daily needs and for the financial necessities of their children’s education.

On November 2017, Florita received one sack of certified rice seeds, complete fertilizers, and urea from the SAAD Program. She and her husband planted in December 2017 and they harvested an estimate of 40 sacks of rice at the end of March 2018, which is earlier than anticipated since the maturity of the rice had advanced to 98 days due to the hot weather. She said that they will set aside 1 ½ sacks for the next planting season. She exclaimed how happy she is and her husband for they have saved their money from SAAD’s assistance.

“Nagpapasalamat po ako sa SAAD kasi naka-avail kami, nakasali kami sa SAAD. Malaking tulong rin na hindi na kami bumili pa ng fertilizer. Malaki ang pagpapasalamat namin. Salamat po sa lahat ng bumubuo ng SAAD.”

Florita also expressed her deepest gratitude to SAAD for the learnings in rice farming she continually acquires through the agro ecosystem analysis (AESA) training, which happens every Wednesday in their barangay.

In Barangay Panayuran, Calbiga

“…sabi ko nga salamat, meron na rin akong pandagdag na pagkakakitaan kasi kung yung 4Ps lang talaga ang aasahan, hindi kaya. Kung hindi talaga kami kumayod na mag-asawa, yung mga anak ko gutom”, shared by 47-year-old Belen Samar, one of 43 beneficiaries of SAAD Samar’s Sustainable Ube Production in Barangay Panayuran, Calbiga.

Belen and her husband are examples of very hardworking farmers. Despite the hardships and challenges in life, they managed to build a decent house for their three children. She claims that their crops, especially ginger and talyan, are their road to that little achievement. In fact, ginger prices have gone up from Php 150 to Php 240 per kilogram in 2015. Belen also plants vegetables, sweet corn, pineapple and anything she can lay her hands on.

Belen was given 46 ube plantlets from SAAD Samar in December 2017. But most of the plantlets have low chances of sprouting probably due to frequent rains. However, she is still hopeful as SAAD Samar and the local government unit of Calbiga are ready to help her and 43 other farmer-beneficiaries from their struggles.

In SAAD Samar’s first implementation in 2017, all municipalities were covered. For 2018, chosen municipalities are Sta. Margarita, Matuguinao, Hinabangan, Calbiga, Talalora, and San Jose de Buan. ###

Writer: Jhomai Canlas, SAAD PR & Communications Officer