SOCCKSARGEN, June 30, 2022 – Personally ensuring smooth and continuous run of projects, National Program Director Myer Mula of the Department of Agriculture-Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) conducted field visits, and led the mass distribution of farm inputs and machinery.
Tupi, South Cotabato
June 27. Mass distribution of farm inputs and machinery worth Php 5.2 million were distributed to the 44 farmers´ associations (FAs) to provide alternative or additional sources of income such as upland rice, corn, vegetable, and livestock. Agri-inputs and postharvest machinery support included rice mill, corn mill, soybean mill, knapsack sprayer, swine feeds, and corn bran.
In his speech, Dir Mula said that, “Para sa inyo itong mga intervention na dala namin, alagaan sana ninyo. Dahil association [na] kayo, minumungkahi kong gawan ninyo ng policy. Ang SAAD ay isang program na kumpleto ang ibinibigay, para magkaroon ng food on the table at magkaroon kayo ng community-based enterprise. Ang ating programa ay nakikita ng ibang government agencies, isa na ang NEDA.”
(These interventions are for you. Because you are now an association, I suggest you establish your policies. SAAD is a complete package program that provides food on your table and helps you establish a community-based enterprise. Our program is seen by other government agencies, one of which is NEDA).
After the distribution, Dir. Mula, with the regional Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) and SAAD regional and provincial staff, went to the municipalities of Palimbang and Maasim to monitor the projects in the area.
June 28. The team visited Blat Farmer’s Association (BFA) in Sitio Blat, Amsipit, Maasim, Sarangani. BFA with 122 members was a recipient of the program’s Integrated Corn with Vegetable and Livestock Production from 2018 to 2022. With 24 members from indigenous T’boli and B’laan communities, the group received open-pollinated variety (OPV) corn seeds, goat, vegetable seeds, farm tools, and a corn sheller.
Since 2018, the members share 50% of their corn harvest to the community, allowing them to also grow corn for consumption. The remaining 50% is sold and their earnings were saved for the association’s fund.
Last April 2022, the group again received 40 bags of corn seeds to cover a 30-hectare (ha) consolidated production area. During the team’s visit, corn is now in vegetative stage, and harvest is expected in August or September.
Recognizing the community-oriented nature of IP farmers, Dir. Mula then encouraged the group to grow these crops abundantly so that they can share it with the community, and help them improve their livelihoods too.
Another member, Pastor Bruzo Cariaga, who received goats (1 buck, 1 doe) shared that the small ruminants were able to reproduce 20 offspring. At five months old, he sold them and bought cattle to help him during land preparation and cultivation.
A total of 40 goats were already turned over to the new grantees of the project, who then automatically became members of the group. As of writing, BFA has122 total members.
The group started to engage in backyard vegetable production in 2018. They planted okra, eggplant, string beans, ampalaya, squash, and tomato in a 1.2ha consolidated backyard area. These plants are sold within their barangay and in the nearest market. To date, their consolidated revenue reached Php 100,000 and is deposited in their savings account.
During the discussion, one of the group members, Nanay Melia stood up and shared how grateful they are for the project provided to them, “Finding a stable source of income in this sitio is very difficult, but when SAAD came and allow us to become one of its beneficiaries, we’re now able to regularly grow corn, sell it, and keep some of our harvest for consumption.”
Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat
June 29. With the team, Dir. Mula met with Baluan Farmers Association (40 members), Medol-Iangali Irrigators Association (47 members), and Baluan Dulangan Mongangen Association (20 members) – new SAAD beneficiaries in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat. They accepted rice mill and corn sheller under the program’s FY 2022 Integrated Projects.
Upland Rice Production
The rice mill is intended for the production areas of Baluan FA (120ha) and the Medol-Iangali Irrigators Association (54ha). Each of the FAs will receive the rice seeds in the third quarter.
The FAs demonstrated a machine operation with the director, which they learned from the training facilitated by the DA Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization. The Municipal Agriculture’s Office endorsed the FA presidents to join various agricultural training who will later re-echo their learnings to their association members.
The Baluan Dungalen FA is a recipient of the program’s Integrated Corn with Vegetable and Postharvest Equipment Support. They received 40 bags of corn seeds last April 2022 and cultivated them in a 60ha corn production area. The crop is in the reproductive stage this month, and harvest is expected in August.
Every day, corn farmers travel long, steep stretches of unpaved roads to tend to their fields. To process the crop, they make another long and risky trip to the nearest milling station. They hire motorcycles to carry the produced load from their barangay.
Mr. Muslimen Katug, president of Medol FA, shares how the farmers in their area will benefit from the corn mill: “Walay kabutangan ang kalipay nga among natagamtaman karong adlaw nga anaa diri sa amoang atubangan ang Director sa SAAD nga pinaagi sa corn mill project, nakatabang ug dako sa amoang panginabuhi. Sa una, nagalisud mi ug naga hulam lang kami og galingan sa mais. Pero karon, dili nami maglisud pa magbaba aron magpa-giling kay anaa na mi sariling galing [corn mill] nga gikan sa SAAD. Daghang kaayong salamat!”
(We can’t express how happy we are that through our SAAD Director here today, the corn mill project provided by the program eases our corn processing. Before it was very difficult and challenging for us, we used to borrow a corn mill. But today that we already have one, our lives will be easier, and milling our corn is much better now through this corn milling machine from SAAD. Thank you so much!).
Dir. Mula then said that: “Masaya akong makita na ganito ang nagaganap sa ating mga magsasaka. Kung saan nakikita ko kung gaano kalaki ang naitutulong ng ating programa sa mga recipient na nasa malalayong lugar. Kaya naman nais ko na pangalagaan ang mga ito [interventions] ng mga beneficiaries at palaguin upang makadagdag sa kanilang pang araw-araw na kita at gayundin para sa improvement ng kanilang pamumuhay.”
(I am happy to see the response of our farmers. I have seen how the program was able to help recipients in hard-to-reach communities. That is why I wanted you to take care of these interventions and sustain it to provide you with additional income and help you improve your livelihoods).
Team’s collaborative efforts
For his part, the FPA representative, Mr. Cherubin Alonzo also introduced to the farmers the importance of the Balanced Fertilization Strategy (BFS) in decreasing the reliance on inorganic inputs to cut down their production costs. Varied forms of alternative fertilizers and cultivation strategies were introduced to address the rising costs of fertilizers worldwide.
He also sought the help of farmers to report unregistered fertilizer vendors as the FPA banned the sale or distribution of poor or substandard fertilizers.
The SAAD regional office through the Focal Person Julie Mie Belongan, shared that they are now creating a team who will monitor all the projects implemented in SOCCSKSARGEN, apply the good practices gathered from the farmers, and as much as possible address the issues and concerns emerging in the provinces.
DA-SAAD Region 12 has covered 30 municipalities from the provinces of Cotabato, Sarangani, and Sultan Kudarat from 2017 to 2021 with a total budget allocation of Php 463.1 million. It has implemented 113 projects benefiting 15,501 members of 661 groups and 17,142 individual farmers. They received various interventions for their integrated projects of rice, corn, vegetable, livestock, and poultry. Additional postharvest equipment were also provided such as corn sheller, rice mill, soybean mill, among others. ###
Writer: Jennifer A. Valcobero, SAAD NPMO PR and Communications Officer
Sources of Data:
Aisa L. Tina, DA-SAAD 12 Information Officer
Jemiema Arro, SAAD NPMO Senior Admin Assistant V
Photos: DA-SAAD 12