ANTIQUE, April 5, 2022 – Director Myer G. Mula, National Director of the Department of Agriculture-Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) Program visited two group beneficiaries in Antique to monitor the progress of existing livelihood projects on March 31. The said associations are engaged into midland vegetable, rice and corn production as well as poultry ventures.
Dir. Mula together with Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) personnel, SAAD-6 regional and provincial implementers traveled to barangays Agricula and Aningalan in San Remegio.
Aningalan Farmers Irrigators Association (AFIA)
Tucked 971.7 meters above sea level, AFIA sits among the small midland communities of San Remigio – dubbed as the “Vegetable Basket” of Antique.
The majority of the locals need to traverse long stretches of steep roads just to get to the town proper – roughly 12 kilometers from Aningalan. A habal-habal drive is available but farmers have to pay a round trip fare of Php 300 and an additional fare of Php 200 for their agricultural products. The area can’t be reached by any network signal.
AFIA has 30 registered members who rely on planting high-value crops such as lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and chayote because of their village’s cool climate and topography.
The group is a beneficiary of the FY 2020 Midland Vegetable Production Project worth Php 543,500. Agricultural inputs include 5 cans of cauliflower seeds, 5 cans of carrot seeds, 10 cans of cucumber seeds, 124 bags of fertilizer, 300 pieces of plastic seedling tray, 5 rolls of UV plastic, 5 rolls of screen, 12 kilograms of vermi worm, 10 bags of rice bran, 10 bags of chicken dung, 24 sets of garden tools, 24 water drums, one weighing scale, 13 rolls of polyethylene hose, and 10 plastic crates.
In October 2020, the group cultivated their respective farms with a total land area of 12 hectares (ha) after receiving the interventions. They also manage a .5-ha communal garden.
To make the SAAD project sustainable, the group agreed to pay project fees and monthly contributions to fund the associations’ activities such as monthly meetings and training. The association’s accumulated savings out of their collection will be used for the procurement of agricultural inputs and other production supplies.
The group was also trained on enterprise development on November 23, 2021, where they were taught to process kimchi out of their cabbage produce as well as pickled cucumbers.
In his message, Dir. Mula lauds the group’s commitment and dedication in optimizing and upscaling the SAAD projects. He likewise emphasized the importance of communal farming.
“Ang purpose ng communal [farming] is for the group and is a learning site for farmers having individual areas. Kung ano ang natututunan nila dito (communal garden), ito rin dapat ang ginagawa doon (individual areas),” he said.
(The purpose of communal farming is to provide a learning site for the group and farmers having individual areas. They should practice what they learn here on their individual farms.)
FPA Regional Officer Noel Negre, for his part, explained to farmers the fertilizer price hike and encouraged them to practice the Balanced Fertilization Strategy (BFS). Farmers were advised to utilize organic fertilizers by using their farm wastes such as chicken manure and leguminous crops to help improve and enhance soil fertility and structure.
SAAD regional implementers will coordinate with Negre regarding the future conduct of training on the integration of balanced fertilization, safety use of pesticides, and pre-harvest interval, among other technical topics.
The director’s team also visited AFIA’s animal housing constructed in preparation for the ready-to-lay (RTL) pullets to be delivered this April as part of the Chicken Layer Egg Production Project worth Php 632,950. The in-support project to their vegetable production includes 10 chicken layer sets (480 head of laying hens), 20 bags of feeds, drugs, and biologics, among other equipment.
Samahan kang Mangunguma kag Mamumugon kang Agricula (SAMAKA)
The second stop of the director’s visit was the SAMAKA located in the upland village of Agricula. The group is composed of 103 registered members led by Ike Gregorio.
The DOLE-registered SAMAKA is among the pioneer recipients of the SAAD Program in the town. They received the FY 2019 Livelihood for Enhanced Rice, Corn, High-Value Crops, and Poultry Projects worth Php 1,104,484.99.
The group was also granted in-support projects for every commodity worth Php 1,097,390 for FY 2020 which includes certified rice seeds with fertilizers, collapsible dryer, hammer mill, an incubator for native chicken, weighing scale, egg tray and chicken crates, farm tools, 5 sets of chicken layer with feeds as well drugs and biologics, rice bran and chicken dung for Bokashi and Takakura Compost. Furthermore, the in-support project for FY 2021 worth Php 741, 800 consists of 11 caracows, farm tools, 15 bags of OPV yellow corn seeds, and fertilizers.
Dir. Mula appreciated the bountiful harvest of SAMAKA’s Chicken Layer Egg Production Project. They were able to produce 15 to 20 trays of eggs per week which were sold to neighboring villages. A tray of medium eggs is sold at Php 180, large eggs at Php 200, and extra-large eggs at Php 210.
To make their poultry venture sustainable, Dir. Mula advised the SAMAKA to replenish their RTL stocks six months before reaching their peak of production for a continuous egg supply for the whole year.
Acknowledging to Dir. Mula’s recommendation, SAMAKA plans to cull their chickens when it reaches its peak of production and the income from the culls will be added to their savings so they could restock their poultry project.
For vegetable production, SAMAKA members were informed about the benefits of multiple cropping or growing two or more crops in the same piece of land at the same growing season given the inherent risks of growing vegetables such as the fluctuating market price of crops and unpredictable weather.
Prior to his site visit and monitoring, the SAAD chief, together with the SAAD Regional Focal Person Dominador Marquez met with San Remigio Mayor Margarito “Mar” Mission on March 31. Dir. Mula was grateful to the partners of SAAD, especially the local government unit and the beneficiaries.
“Marami pa kaming tulong na ipapamahagi sa inyo. Ipagdasal natin na i-continue pa ang SAAD program. Kung mangyayari iyon, marami pa tayong mga lugar na matutulungan,” he said.
(We still have a lot of assistance to provide. Let us pray for the SAAD Program to continue. If that happens, we will be able to assist more areas.)
Since the start of its implementation in 2019, the SAAD Program in Western Visayas has already expanded its area of coverage from three municipalities to eight. The program was able to provide 136 production and livelihood interventions to 483 individual and 383 group beneficiaries with 13,419 members in the region.
Through the provision of livelihood interventions and technical assistance, the SAAD program contributed to poverty-stricken communities that seldom receive much-needed support from the government to attain resilient and sustainable rural economies. ###
Writer: Christ John Gamarcha, Information Officer DA-SAAD Region 6