APAYAO, March 11, 2022– The Department of Agriculture – Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) Program in Apayao conducted its pilot testing on sustainability and business planning for the Upstream Livelihood Farmers Association (ULFA), a beneficiary Farmer Cooperative and Association (FCA) in Barangay Dagupan, Luna, Apayao to prepare it for agripreneurship before the closing of SAAD’s Phase 1 this year.
Sustainability has become a buzzword for the SAAD Program. The preliminary testing was steered through focus group discussions (FGD) involving some of the beneficiaries from the ULFA and representatives from the Regional Program Management Support Office (RPMSO), Provincial Program Management Support Office (PPMSO), and Municipal Agricultural Office (MAO) of Luna.
A Project Assessment Tool was used to evaluate the group’s overall organizational capability. This toolkit provides some specialized attributes for data collection and measurement. It discusses the efficiency and effectiveness of livelihood projects and sets out a framework of concepts and principles that can help address the weaknesses of the association.
The test was facilitated by the SAAD field implementers in partnership with the RPMSO representatives. Readiness for enterprising of the FCA’s projects was looked at, as well as management and other notable practices. The set of questions was rated from 0 to 1.
“Take a close-up photo of the strength, weakness, opportunity, and challenge of the Farmers Association, the goal is to determine kung kaya na ba ng beneficiaries ang tumayo at maging entrepreneur, at itong purpose ng assessment na ito is to measure the capacity of each FCA at malaman ang side ng farmers,” said George Estabillo, Community Development Officer (CDO), RMPSO.[Take a close-up photo of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges of the Farmers Association, the goal is to determine if the beneficiaries can stand up and become entrepreneurs. The purpose of this assessment is to measure the capacity of each FCA and know the side of farmers.]
Maxima Camayang, chairperson of ULFA explained that the association is currently earning from egg, vegetable, and livestock production provided by the program.
The goal of the analysis is to determine if the SAAD Program can further assist existing FCAs or if they are now ready as independent groups that can engage into enterprising.
Field implementers on evaluating the ULFA
The preliminary conclusion of the SWOC or strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges revealed that camaraderie is one of the ULFA’s strengths in terms of project monitoring and a strong policy on transparency.
Julius Casil, Agricultural Technician of the LGU, reminded the group of the importance of assessment, and awareness of their strong and weak points as he considered this as the utmost pathway from poverty.
ULFA Treasurer Wilfredo Rimando reiterated the need to strengthen their knowledge through technical training, especially for livestock production.
“Maysa nga makita mi nga pag-kapuyan mi ket awan unay training agituy members mi panggep iti pinag-taraken iti livestock, [One of the weaknesses that we have is some of our members do not have much training when it comes to livestock production,]” said Rimando.
RPMSO Representative Danny Macycon emphasized that the beneficiaries can strengthen their entrepreneurial activities through partnership building with other government agencies like the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) or Banner Programs of the DA for a wider grants access to engage in large scale production and enterprise.
Mr. Casil added that with the able participation of the LGU, the FCA was also getting benefits in terms of technical assistance through closed project monitoring.
As of May 12, 2021, the FCA was awarded a Good Standing from DOLE, certifying the group’s legitimacy as a worker’s association, with 144 members, which has completed the annual financial report for the fiscal year (FY) of 2020.
With their accreditation, Erap Ulabo, SAAD Provincial Coordinator, said the association can be linked to other agencies for community empowerment and development like Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Moreover, ULFA was rated with 80.89% based on seven (7) capability areas which are Organizational Management Capability, Leadership Development Capability, Management Capability, Production, and Marketing, Funds Management Capability, Networking, and Linkages Capability, and lastly Good Governance during the conduct of systematic pilot testing on sustainability,
Apayao is composed of 7 municipalities namely Pudtol, Luna, Sta. Marcela, Flora, Calanasan, Conner, and Kabugao, which covers a total of 133 barangays. A series of sustainability and business plan assessments will be conducted in March to evaluate other SAAD areas that include 123 barangays and 46 farmer’s associations with a total of 6,189 members. ###
Writer: Kathleen Faye B. Agonoy, Information Officer I, SAAD Apayao