Valderrama is one of the 18 municipalities in Antique, in which most of its barangays are in the upland where accessibility is limited. Only those in the Poblacion and its vicinity have good access roads which can be reached by all types of vehicles.
The town center is approximately 50 kilometers from San Jose, the capital town of Antique.
Barangay Lublub is among the farthest villages from town proper and can only be reached by habal-habal (enhanced motorbike) ride with a minimum fare of Php 200 per passenger and another Php 100 for baggage.
Farming has always been the bread and butter of the Lublub residents in providing families’ needs and children’s education. Rice is the main produce while other crops include banana, squash, cassava, sweet potato, and peanut.
Due to the effects of climate change which resulted in a long dry spell, some farmers in the town were not able to plant rice for several cropping seasons in the previous years. Others also often lack capital for their farm inputs and most of them rely on credit for their needs.
About Mrs. Josephine Canja
Mrs. Josephine Canja is a 60-year-old mother of 5 and a full-time farmer married to Antonio. They are tenants of a two-hectare land since 2002 which they utilized and converted into a productive area planted with rice, banana, and root crops such as taro, sweet potato, and peanut.
She usually earns Php 300 a week which is used to support her family’s daily needs. Antonio helps his wife in marketing their produce in the neighborhood and in the town proper.
“Mabudlay ang sitwasyon ridya sa amon sa ngaran nga bukid bay dya kag pigado ang mga tawu. Kun ma failure ang amon nga mga product, wara man kami it income,” said Josephine.
(The situation here in our area is difficult since we are located in the mountains and the people here are poor. If our production fails, this means we don’t have an income)
In 2017, she joined the Lublub Fresh Vegetable Noodle Maker Association (LFVNMA) in hopes to gain additional income and likewise be part of an inclusive group that ensures a hunger-free community through food production.
Since then, Josephine was elected as the business manager who oversees the productivity and efficiency of their Department of Labor and Employment-registered group. Part of her tasks is implementing business strategies, evaluating the association’s sales performances, as well as supervising the members.
In 2020, a team from the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) reached the municipality to validate and profile farmers who are included in the list of qualified beneficiaries based on the data of the municipality on poverty incidence.
The group was chosen as recipient of SAAD’s FY 2020 Peanut Production Project. Their interventions include 15 bags of peanut seeds, 5 bags of T14 fertilizer, and 5 bags of vermicast.
Josephine and the 25 registered members of LFVNMA were required to attend the orientation and various capability building training before receiving the agricultural inputs worth Php 31,750 on January 3, 2021. After the distribution, the Lublub farmers started their land preparation.
On January 6, 2021, they planted the seeds in their 15.1 hectares (ha) communal area by placing the peanut seeds two inches deep and eight inches apart in loose, well-drained soil.
According to Josephine, a typical day for her would mean being up before sunrise to inspect plants for possible insects, keep the planting beds weed-free and cultivate lightly to keep the soil loose.
Josephine explained that overwatering can hurt the peanuts just as much as under-watering, so they are focusing on keeping a record of local rainfall events and especially the irrigation applications.
She also emphasized that blindly irrigating plants a set number of times per week throughout the season will not aid in properly meeting the requirements for the crop.
The association holds quarterly meetings where they tackle issues and concerns of each member as well as present financial and operational records.
After almost three months of continued effort on tending their peanut production, the group harvested about 2,300 kilograms (kg) of peanuts in April.
Each of the members has his own schedule of trading their produce at Php 33/kg at the town’s public market. So far, the group has a gross income of Php 75,900.
Josephine said they set aside two sacks of peanut seeds from their harvest, which would be planted in the next cropping season. They are all hopeful to gain more income in the coming months since they still have standing crops to be harvested.
Additional Project Intervention: Squash Production
Seeing the promising peanut production of LFVNMA, the SAAD further granted the group two cans of squash seeds worth Php 8,400 funded from the program’s savings in March 2021. The squash seeds planted in a 3,000 square meters’ communal garden augmented the existing squash production of the group.
From June to July this year, the group harvested about 30kg of squash and so far earned Php 2,550 by making squash noodles, which are not only cheap but also nutritious.
According to Josephine, one of the brainchild of the group’s squash noodles, the venture is just small-scale at the moment. They earn some money supplying the noodles to local restaurants, which usually cook the noodles as pancit canton, lomi, and beef or chicken mami. Josephine said the LFVNMA hopes to expand the business.
To ensure the project’s sustainability, the group also created policies such as the paying scheme. As stated, the association will receive a 5% share while the rest will go to the members.
According to Josephine, the project of the SAAD Program helped them in sustaining the food requirement of each of their members’ family during this pandemic.
For the Canja family, the income they got from the peanut production was used to purchase milk for their 3-month-old grandchild and likewise a new bolo for Antonio.
Josephine said they are hopeful of their group’s future undertakings. They are planning to get involved in producing peanut butter and squash cake, which are not only affordable but also nutritious.
The group also wants to venture into squash noodle production as they are geared towards it. However, they still need to be equipped more through hands-on experience and technical training.
They will also create a social media page where they could trade their produce online in hopes to establish links with institutional buyers. ###
Writer: Christ John Gamarcha, SAAD Region 6 Information Officer
Editors: Myer Mula, Ulysses Lustria, Jr., Jhomai Canlas, and Jennifer Valcobero