Way back in 2018, the Department of Agriculture (DA) – Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program was first implemented in Sulu, covering the four municipalities of Paranag, Panamao, Maimbung, and Talipao. The projects allocated to the province with a total amount of Php 17,005,068.96 has benefited 10 farmers associations (541 farmers).
One of the project beneficiaries is Mr. Sikal I. Wadja from Barangay Suuh in the Municipality of Panamao. Mr. Wadja is one of the members of the Anak Miskin Farmers’ Association who received inputs from SAAD’s FY 2018 Diversified Crops and Livestock Production Project.
In March 2019, Mr. Wadja received inputs consisting of 11 rolls of hog wires, 10 bags of organic fertilizer, corn seeds, unshelled peanuts, 2,000 pieces of cassava stalks, a scythe, a shovel, and a bolo, worth Php 43,950.00.
Mr. Wadja, also known as Mang Sikal, is married to Nurraya P. Ijan; together they have 9 children. Mussah (5) is in kindergarten; Julia (7) and Alsamier (9) are in Grade 2; Imbi (12) is in Grade 6; Rashiden (16) is in Grade 8; Almonir (14) is in Grade 9; Alnizalyn (20) is in 2nd year college; while Lizalyn (22) finished high school. All of his family members help in their farming activities.
The Wadja family owns two hectares of farmland but is only utilizing a fourth of it due to stray animals such as wild boars which destroy their crops. Trouble with vagrant animals is a common problem with Sulu farmers.
“I almost got to the point of giving up, I can’t plant as much as I can because stray animals end up eating my plants. I earn so little after months of exerting hard work and patience. It’s quite devastating,” exclaimed Mang Sikal.
A year after receiving the livelihood intervention from the DA-SAAD, the family’s earning drastically improved. The family was able to buy a second-hand motorcycle worth Php 50,000.00.
“There’s a huge difference between the income I earned from the time our land was without proper fencing. Php 7,000.00 is not enough to sustain our family’s daily needs. Now that we have fences, I earned Php 85,000.00 on my first crop harvest from SAAD! I now have my own motorcycle I used this to deliver my goods to the market. I also use this for peddling fish which serves as additional income for me and my family” said Mang Sikal. The motorcycle is also being rented for Php 500.00 to 800.00 per day.
From cassava alone, the family generated Php 85,000.00; they sold pressed cassava for Php 120.00 per block weighing 5-6 kgs. Pressing cassava into blocks is a processing technique which reduces the moisture and keeps the product from spoilage and lower product quality. Cassava is used for Tausug delicacies such as syanglag, piyuto, and biyanban.
They also managed to generate another Php 15,000.00 from corn; Php 14,000.00 was earned from raw, while Php 1,000.00 was from selling biaki, which is another Tausug delicacy made by corn. Another Php 6,000.00 was earned from harvesting peanuts.
On September 23-25, with the help of his family, Mr. SIkal harvested 230 kgs of corn kernels. The corn kernels are expected to be sold in the neighboring municipality for Php 8,050.00, or Php 35.00/kg. This is his second cropping since May 2020.
As of September 30, Mang Sikal’s sold a total of Php 114,050.00 from the cassava, corn and peanut production.
Table 1. Mr. Sikal I. Wadja’s Sales from the Cassava-Corn-Peanut Farming from June 2019 to September 2020.
|Crop||Volume of Harvest (kg)||
Price per Unit
|Cassava||3,895 (or 708 blocks)||120/block||85,000.00|
|1st & 2nd harvest||400||37.50/kg||14,000.00|
“Before, we were so afraid to receive livelihood intervention from the government. Some of those who have visited us only leaves us with promises. Full of hope we wait, and yet we waited for nothing,” said Mang Sikal.
Expressing his gratitude to the DA-SAAD, Mang Sikal said, “I would have been in deep regret if I listened to the false rumors about the program and didn’t accept the interventions. It did not just improve our way of living, but it gave us a reason to continue hoping for a better tomorrow. I am truly thankful for all the support from the DA-SAAD.” He is especially grateful to Al-anas A. Yusop, the SAAD area coordinator assigned in the Municipality of Panamao.
Mr. Yusop said, “Their success is also my success. As an area coordinator, it is overwhelming to see one of the beneficiaries somehow improved his way of living through the intervention we brought from the SAAD… They made us realize that we are reaping according to what we sow, not just only the hard work that we are putting in this venture with the beneficiaries themselves and other stakeholders. This development makes us more motivated to continue what we’ve started. Despite all the shortcomings, this brings strength and more lessons to continue on and work harder.” ###
Writer: Shara Malaica Ussam, SAAD Sulu Information Officer
Copy editor: Natalianne Marie O. Delos Reyes, PR & Comms Officer- SAAD NPMO