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High-value crops farmers at the forefront of community food security initiatives

CATANDUANES, July 02, 2021 – The beneficiaries of the Department of Agriculture (DA) – Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program for High-Value Crops (HVC) production in Catanduanes remain steadfast amid the pandemic and the succession of natural calamities, spearheading multiple community-wide initiatives towards food security.

San Miguel Community Pantry

The spirit of sharing and unity was exhibited by the San Miguel Farm Workers Association (SAMIFAWA) members from Barangay San Miguel, Panganiban, Catanduanes when they willingly participated in the community pantry and the agro-fair organized in their village.

Aligned with the statement “Kumuha nang naaayon sa pangangailangan, magbigay ayon sa kakayahan” of the Maginhawa Community Pantry, the Barangay San Miguel also established theirs as a response to food and basic needs insufficiency in their barrio.

Out of 140 kilograms (kg) of assorted vegetables harvested from their 800 square meters (sqm) communal garden, approximately 42kg were donated by the DA–SAAD farmers to their pantry while some bartered it for food and other daily necessities.

Crops like pechay, ampalaya, patola, okra, sitaw, and squash as well as two trays of eggs produced from the native chickens were traded for coffee, sugar, rice, canned goods, soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent. The remaining 98kg were either sold or kept for their family’s consumption.

Punong Barangay Jeffrey D. Velasco of San Miguel expressed his gratitude for the assistance given by the DA–SAAD. He mentioned that the families in their barangay were able to have food on their table because they now have standing crops that they can harvest or exchange for food. The bartered vegetables were again offered to people who needed them at the time.

The San Miguel Community Pantry, which started in April and benefited almost 200 families, is still ongoing and accepts donations in cash or in-kind.

San Miguel Agro-Fair

Moreover, the Barangay Council of San Miguel also conducted the “Barangay San Miguel Agro-Fair” from May 5 to 8 in observance of its barangay fiesta or founding celebration. The local farmers exhibited their harvests and other agricultural produce.

Representatives from the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Panganiban and the Municipal Agriculture Office graced the event and the residents from nearby municipalities of Viga and Bagamanoc.

SAAD beneficiaries earned Php 7,305 from their vegetable sales for the duration of the Barangay San Miguel Agro-Fair (Table 1).

Table 1. Data on SAMIFAWA’s Agro-Fair Sales

“Ako po ay lubos na natutuwa dahil naipakita po namin ang pagkakaisa ng aming barangay. Lahat po kami rito ay nagtulong-tulong para maisakatuparan ang Community Pantry at ang Barangay Agro-Fair sa San Miguel. Marami pong produkto ang galing sa SAAD ang naipamahagi at naipagbili. Malaking tulong po talaga ang pagkakaroon ng SAAD dahil nagbibigay ito ng pagkain at karagdagang kita para sa mga magsasaka. Lahat po ng kinita sa Barangay Agro-Fair ay para sa mga magsasaka lamang po, bilang pagbibigay-pugay para sa kanilang kasipagan. Maraming salamat po sa tulong ng DA SAAD,” Mr. Velasco said.

[I am so delighted because we can show unity in our town. Each of us contributed to the success of our Community Pantry and the Barangay Agro-Fair in San Miguel. Many products were showcased and sold from SAAD projects. SAAD’s support immensely helped our local farmers’ access to food and livelihood resources. The profits earned from Barangay Agro-Fair are apportioned to the farmers alone as appreciation for their perseverance. And we have the SAAD Program to thank for.]

Kadiwa on Wheels 

The San Miguel SAAD Vegetable Farmers Association (San Miguel SAADVFA) from San Miguel, Baras, Catanduanes held a “Kadiwa on Wheels” activity on May 18. Headed by Ms. Lucia R. Obo, the association sold their harvested vegetables by peddling around the Baras town proper.

By selling 88.4kg of assorted vegetables (squash, okra, sili, ampalaya, sitaw, and upo) harvested from their 1.5 ha DA – SAAD garden, they earned Php 3,109.50 in just two hours.

The group plans to have a permanent stall or area where they can sell their crops during market days in Baras. The beneficiaries planted the seeds distributed in January and started to harvest crops from April.

The “Kadiwa on Wheels” activity is deemed beneficial for the farmers and buyers. Not all farmers are required to go to the Baras poblacion because there are volunteers who will sell their harvests.

Moreover, buyers from other barangays in Baras have closer access to fresh vegetables which they can purchase from the “Kadiwa on Wheels” of the San Miguel SAADVFA.

Vegetable for Feeding Programs, Gifts, and Donations

Members of the San Marcos Vegetable Farmers Association (SMVFA) do not see their location as a hindrance to having a flourishing vegetable garden.

Barangay San Marcos, San Miguel can be reached after a 50-minute tricycle ride from the capital town of Virac, and an hour of walking from Barangay Pagsangahan, crossing two rivers. Those who wish to visit the area have no other choice but to walk since the roads to San Marcos are still being constructed, and the bridge was destroyed by Super Typhoon Rolly in 2020.

Being one of the first barangays to be included in the DA–SAAD Program during its roll out in the province in 2018, the HVC beneficiaries organized the SMVFA composed of 31 members.

In January, the FA is a recipient of assorted seeds such as sitaw (1kg), okra (1kg), squash (500g), eggplant (200g), pepper (200g), tomato (200g), upland kangkong, (1kg) cucumber (400g), and upo (500g). They planted the seeds in their 0.4 ha communal garden. The distribution of the said agricultural inputs is from the Php 5,500,000 budget which is targeted for typhoon rehabilitation measures for the SAAD Program in Catanduanes.

With the full support of the DA-SAAD, working hand-in-hand with the San Miguel LGU, the SMVFA continues to harvest vegetables for selling and consumption of the farmers’ families. Their crops are brought to Barangay Pagsangahan or San Miguel poblacion.

Aside from selling their crops, the residents understand how challenging it is for someone to walk that far to reach them; thus, they offer their vegetables as gifts for their guests.

The Barangay Council of San Marcos also organized local feeding program activities, headed by Punong Barangay Erwin Baňas. He mentioned that the vegetables from the DA–SAAD HVC communal garden are the usual ingredients for the cooked meals they serve for free in their barangay.

The people from San Marcos are thankful for the assistance provided by the DA-SAAD. Not only the members of the SMVFA benefit from the project, but most of the residents in San Marcos enjoy the advantages of having the agricultural inputs to sustain their HVC production. ###

Writer: Sarah Jane C. Taway, DA SAAD Catanduanes – Information Officer

Sources: PPMO Catanduanes

Photo Sources: Melrose B. Buetre, Jeffrey D. Velasco, Lucia R. Obo

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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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