Mondragon is a 3rd class municipality in Northern Samar with 24 barangays and a population of 41,415, based on the 2020 Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) census. Due to the high poverty incidence in the municipality, pegged at 51.79% as of 2015, the local government unit (LGU) through the Municipal Agriculturist’s Office (MAO) boosts agricultural projects that would significantly help farmers in the long term, particularly those who are facing financial hardships. The LGU partnered with the Department of Agriculture – Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA- SAAD) to create income-generating projects that would help ease hunger, especially at the time of the pandemic.
The San Agustin Farmers Association (SAFA) is a farmers’ association (FA) located in Brgy. San Agustin, Mondragon organized by the Municipal Agriculturist’s Office (MAO) in 2014 and registered with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in 2017. The FA is composed of 22 marginalized farmers, aged 20-75 years old, with an average income of Php 3,000 to Php 4,000 monthly, headed by Adelia P. Vicario. Members of the association are rice and vegetable farmers, while some raise livestock such as goat, mallard duck, and swine.
SAFA received various types of assistance from the LGU, such as the Farmers’ Field School (FFS) on organic vegetables (July to December 2014), rice production (November 2016), and corn production (April 2016), as well as rice and vegetable seeds from MAO, Mondragon.
Following these, SAAD Region 8 conducted a needs assessment where SAFA qualified as one of the recipients of the Program’s FY 2021 Egg Layer Production and Marketing Project in Northern Samar worth Php 1,860,750. (Table 1).
In November 2021, the FA was also granted a solar panel project by People In Need (PIN) a non-government organization (NGO), which proved beneficial to the group’s egg layer production project as there is no electricity yet in their production site. In December 2021, SAAD completed and delivered its agri-interventions to the association.
Table 1. Interventions received by SAFA under 2021 Egg Layer Production and Marketing
In preparation for the SAAD project, farmer–members went through social preparation training in April 2021 and technical training in August 2021 facilitated by SAAD Region 8 and supported by Mondragon LGU. The training activities were provided to capacitate the association and enhance their skills and knowledge in handling the Egg Layer Production project’s sustainability.
The FA built a 150-square meter poultry house worth Php 155,371 from individual contributions and funds borrowed from the association which served as SAFA’s counterpart for the project.
During the first month of production in January 2022, SAFA earned Php 54,045 gross income through selling of the produced eggs in community sari–sari stores (general merchandise), and nearby barangays (Table 2).
As a marketing strategy, SAFA also established a store along the national highway to display and introduce the egg harvests to passers-by and the general public, to easily avail of the product.
SAFA members believe that producing quality eggs makes their product popular in the community. The FA ensures freshly hatched eggs are delivered on time from the production area.
Thus, the association gained regular patrons, some reaching out to them in advance to reserve egg orders.
Table 2. SAFA’s sales (January 2022 to May 2022)
SAFA considers the SAAD Egg Layer as the biggest livelihood project they received from the Department of Agriculture. The first month of operation was challenging for the FA as they were still learning the production process. But as time went by, with the continuous help of SAAD staff and the LGU, the FA had become adept at the ins and outs of the process.
“Salamat sa tanan na iyu sakripisyu sa amon, bisan damu an naaatubang nga problema sa pagtaga layer, tatalinguhaon ko na maging maupay pa kami sa mga susunod na panahon para diri masayang an iyu inhatag ngan makabulig pa san daku sa amun na mga parag oma,” SAFA President Adelia Vicario shared during a conversation with SAAD Area Coordinator.
(Thank you for all your sacrifices to us, even though we have encountered problems in this egg layer project, I will do extra effort for us to become good in what we do to not waste what you have given which is a great help to us).
SAFA looks forward to the possibility of expanding the project if the demand for eggs in the area exceeds the supply and for other markets yet to be explored in adjacent communities.
The Egg Layer Production project helped SAFA improve the standard of living of its members. So far, they were able to invest in a motorcycle used for the delivery of egg produce to customers, install a new source of water, bought a generator in case their solar panel malfunctions, and paid their balance for the egg layer facility. ###
Writer: Kenneth Lowie Jay Biago, SAAD Northern Samar Area Coordinator II