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FAO’s Recommendations on DA-SAAD Program

“… stronger coherence between agriculture and social protection interventions can improve the welfare of poor small family farmers by facilitating productive inclusion, improving risk-management capacities, and increasing agricultural productivity – all of which enable rural-based families to gradually move out of poverty and hunger”
(Tirivayi, et al., 2013, as cited in FAO, 2019)

A project of the Department of Agriculture (DA) which demonstrates coherence between social protection (SP) and agriculture (AG) is the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program. This program is implemented for 6 years (2017-2022) with the mission to contribute in the reduction of poverty among the marginalized and poorest of the poor sectors of agriculture and fishery to the 30 priority provinces identified by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) based on 2012 and 2015 data, and as well as areas covered by Executive Order No. 70, series of 2018 through increase food production for household consumption and the establishment of community enterprises.

FAO´s recommendations and DA-SAAD’s initiatives

In 2019, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO-UN) published a policy and programmatic review which seeks for a greater coherence between social protection and agriculture in the Philippines. The study assessed various agency programs providing a set of proposals on the synergy between development programs in government agencies such as the DA-SAAD Program through policy-level (Table 1) and program-level (Table 2) recommendations.

Following FAO’s recommendations for greater coherence, here are the corresponding DA-SAAD initiatives:

Table 1. Policy-level Recommendations.

FAO´s Policy-Level Recommendations DA-SAADs Initiatives
Build policy consensus on the importance of coherence between social protection, agriculture, and food security and nutrition.


This involves identifying mutual objectives and concrete incentives for coordination within the Department. The bureaus working together to identify common objectives and the specific contributions, both technical and financial, of each agency towards the main policy frameworks. This includes the establishment of a strong monitoring framework which allows periodic follow-ups and adjustments as needed.
Prepare joint investment plans that could ensure greater coherence between social protection and agriculture in the context of the 2017–2022 Public Investment Program (PIP). In order to address among others, the challenges of inadequate irrigation and low farm mechanization of the agriculture and fishery sector, convergence at the program level are explored with existing programs of the various offices of DA.
Identify potential champions who can push forward the SP+AG coherence agenda. Identification and capacity development of potential champions facilitate greater coherence. The participation of civil society organizations through established farming and fishing cooperatives/associations, as well as groups composed of program beneficiaries promotes empowerment in policymaking and program implementation.
Develop an advocacy strategy based on in-country evidence on the benefits of coherence between social protection and agriculture. To ensure political commitment, the need to generate in-country evidence on the benefits of coherence between social protection and agriculture have been conducted by NEDA in 2019 wherein DA-SAAD has contributed to the reduction of poverty in Region 8. Within this context, the development of impact evaluations of DA-SAAD become instruments for improved advocacy.
Identify entry points in policy design processes to promote SP+AG coherence.


The constant review and evolving nature of sectoral plans provide strong opportunities for greater coherence. In particular, the continuous review of the DA-SAAD 6 year development plan (2017–2022) through national- and regional-level consultations, increase cross-sectoral linkages.
Stimulate and integrate the participation of civil society and non-state actors
into the SP+AG coherence agenda.
Developing coalitions among non-government organizations (NGOs) and farmers, forest-dependent communities, and fisherfolk groups stimulate discussions and promote the coherence agenda. In addition, the concerns raised by some groups regarding issues of exclusion or eligibility are addressed and explored in a participatory manner.
Ensure adequate representation within national coordination mechanisms for the SP+AG agenda.


Adequate representation of agriculture, food security and nutrition, and social protection in the inter-agency Sub-Committee on Social Protection and other coordination mechanisms enhances the coherence agenda. Adequate agency representation within the key coordination bodies is strengthened through capacity development interventions while encouraging participation of development partners, civil society organizations, academic institutions, and other relevant sectors.
Create a specific coherence coordination mechanism between social protection and agriculture for advantageous results. The national government creates a cross-sectoral coordination mechanism led by NEDA and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), which brings together government agencies mandated to work on the key thematic areas of social protection, agriculture and food security, and nutrition.
Use a territorial approach to inter-agency coordination to achieve greater coherence between social protection and agriculture. With the decentralization of local government units (LGUs), SP+AG coherence is strengthened in the local planning and development councils at the provincial and municipal levels. Local chief executives, with the support of planning development officers, social welfare officers, and agriculture officers, find entry points in the local development policy and planning processes. This includes the identification of programs that complements existing social protection programs rolled out by national line agencies.
Develop the capacity of national government agents to move the SP+AG agenda forward.


Technical support and capacity development in understanding and operationalizing the coherence agenda is implemented at the national, regional, provincial, and municipal level. As representatives of national government agencies expressed an interest to pursue the SP+AG agenda, an increased understanding of the interconnection between social protection, agriculture and food security is considered a priority.


Table 2. Program-level Recommendations

FAO’s Program-Level Recommendations DA-SAAD Initiatives
Explore a territorial approach to targeting in SP+AG programs and interventions The DA-SAAD Program, since its inception, has prioritized the 30 poorest provinces with the highest poverty incidence among families based on the Philippine Statistics Authority data of 2012 and 2015.
Promote greater data-sharing between the National Household Targeting System and the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA)


The SAAD field implementers coordinate with the local government units and national government agencies pertaining to the list of DA-SAAD beneficiary candidates, making use of the DSWD’s 4Ps database and DA’s RSBSA. National Commission on Indigenous Peoples also recommends eligible beneficiaries from the Indigenous Peoples communities.
Ensure and promote greater dialogue with representatives from civil society and local organizations concerning issues on eligibility and exclusion


The DA-SAAD field implementers also facilitate continuous consultations/dialogues and other activities that are important to mobilize the program. Part of these activities is the meetings with local field executives such as governors, congress representatives, and mayors; and DA bureaus and units.
Promote a convergence approach similar to EPAHP among other development programs SAAD is an example of a convergence initiative at the program level, which combines social protection, agriculture, and food security, and nutrition interventions. This creates a direct platform for inter-sectoral collaboration between the Bureaus of DA and LGUs.
Stronger emphasis on cross-sectoral coordination is necessary to ensure programmatic coherence between SP and AG.


DA-SAAD already integrates elements of coherence between social protection and agriculture, deeper programmatic connections and stronger coordination efforts would maximize impacts and results. DA-SAAD connects the farmers to markets in which their farm and fish products were made accessible to the consumers. It varies per region (e.g. the Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita project by the DA, in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry and established market outlets such as malls).
Impact evaluations and greater evidence-gathering efforts are indispensable for greater SP+AG coherence and rural poverty reduction. The program is currently undergoing a third-party midterm impact evaluation assessment (CY 2017-2019) for policy direction that would improve program implementation.

Social Protection: the SAAD way

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) defined social protection as a “set of policies and programs designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability.” This can be accomplished through “promoting efficient labor markets, diminishing people’s exposure to risks, and enhancing their capacity to protect themselves against hazards/ loss of income” (ADB, 2001).

DA-SAAD provides social protection through the food production and livelihood projects implemented in the areas with the highest poverty incidence among families. These interventions are productive resources which can be used for the farmers and fishers daily sustenance.

Local production also results to opportunities for employment and additional income for their families. In 2018, the enterprise development component of the program was added to encourage small communal enterprises to thrive, resulting to the development of their communities.

Having increased economic activities will in turn increase their assets which will help them prepare for risks (Welle and Birkmann, 2015; World Risk Report, 2016) dictated by the exposure to natural hazards – e.g. earthquakes, Typhoons, flooding, drought; susceptibility – e.g. nutrition, living conditions, economic circumstances; coping capacities – e.g. healthcare access, social and material security; and adapting capacities – e.g. impending natural events, climate change, pandemic.

The importance of DA-SAAD interventions in providing food and as a source of income was appreciated by the beneficiaries especially amid the effects of CoViD-19 restrictions in the Philippines. The restrictions in transportation and movement of goods and services have primarily affected the market chain all over the country. Thus, the DA-SAAD assisted its beneficiaries in the marketing of their produce and by providing them projects for crops, livestock, poultry, and fishery production that are fast income-generating.

Based on the testimonies of the beneficiaries published through press releases and through SAADventures, farmers and fishers claim that DA-SAAD has provided great assistance towards food sufficiency.

Until 2022, and hopefully beyond, DA-SAAD will continuously promote social protection through livelihood projects (food production) and the establishment of community enterprises for farmers and fishers towards increase/improve purchasing power, which can lead to poverty reduction. ###


Dr. Myer G. Mula, Program Director

Natalianne Marie O. Delos Reyes, PR and Comms Officer- SAAD NPMO


Albert JR and Vizmanos JF. 2018. Vulnerability to Poverty in the Philippines: An Examination of Trends from 2003 to 2015. Philippine Institute of Development Studies.

Asian Development Bank (ADB). 2001. Social Protection Strategy. Asian Development Bank.

FAO. 2019. Seeking greater coherence between agriculture and social protection in the Philippines – A policy and programmatic review. Manila. ISBN 978-92-5-131876-8.

Welle T and Birkmann J. 2015. The World Risk Index- An Approach to Assess Risk and Vulnerability on a Global Scale. World Scientific Publishing Company.

World Risk Report. 2016. United Nations University-Institute for Environment and Human Security and Bennis Unsickling Hilt.


Sitio Sangitsangit Tahong Growers Association, Brgy. Tinocdogan, Leyte, Leyte

Culiram SAAD Abaca Farmers Association, Talacogon, Agusan del Sur.

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Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program Online ISSN: 2718-9791
Published by the SAAD National Program Management Office Editorial Board

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