SORSOGON, January 17, 2022 – Thirty-four (34) members of the Sibago Indigenous People Farmer’s Association (SIPFA) from Sorsogon pocketed Php 9,100 after harvesting 130 kilograms (kg) of ampalaya (bitter gourd) from November to December 2021.
The activity is under the High-Value Production Project of the Department of Agriculture – Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program.
In August 2021, the group cultivated a 500-square meter (sqm) communal garden which was intended for the Php 748,164.80 vegetable production inputs provided by the program.
Table 1. Interventions Received by SIPFA
After three months, the group started harvesting from their ampalaya plants. Eighty (80) kilograms were gathered in November and 50kg in December. They were sold to neighbors at Php 70/kg and earned Php 9,100.
According to SIPFA treasurer Mildred Trestiza, they were expecting a 200kg harvest, however, their production area was damaged due to successive and heavy rains, thus resulting in a minimal harvest.
To assist the association cope with the losses, the program again provided them seeds, fertilizers, and technical assistance facilitated by SAAD Area Coordinator Mark Joven Barja.
Mr. Barja guided the members in making elevated plots and putting plastic mulch to avoid further damage to the crops during the rainy season.
“Konti ang aming naani dahil sa masamang panahon. Pero ayos lang, susubok at susubok pa rin kami. Para makabawi, nagtanim na din kami ng pipino, kamatis at sili. Nakakatuwa dahil lahat kami natuto na mag tanim. Sabi ko sa kanila, sikretong income ito, panahon lang ang kalaban natin. Salamat sa programa ng SAAD dahil sa suporta niyo, lalo po kami sisipagan na magtanim,” Mildred said.
[Our harvest was minimal due to unfavorable weather. But it’s okay, we still try and try. In order to recover, we also planted cucumber, tomatoes, and sili. It’s fun because all of us learned how to plant. I told them that this is secret earning, our opponent is just the weather. Thank you SAAD Program for your support, we will be more diligent in farming.]
Plans on value-adding products
The said earnings were used to buy ingredients for the group’s puto trial as an extra livelihood activity and for truck rental to haul the fertilizers to their area.
The group is also planning to expand to a more favorable area where the crops will not be submerged in water during heavy rains to maximize their vegetable production.
Further, they intend to venture into value-adding products such as puto, veggie empanada, kalabasa molido, pechay kimchi, turmeric salabat, peanut brittle, and kalabasa chips which they learned from the Vegetable Production and Enterprise Development Training conducted by the program in September 2021.
This January 2022, they are expecting to harvest an estimated 100kg of ampalaya from their vegetable garden. ###
Writer: Pauline Trixia D. Borja, SAAD Program Sorsogon Information Officer
Mary Rose Detera, SAAD Program Sorsogon Provincial Coordinator
Mark Joven Barja, Donsol Area Coordinator
Photos: Mark Joven Barja