A year after the Department of Agriculture- Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) was first introduced in Sulu, the program finally reached Talipao in 2018, a coastal municipality that constitutes about 20% of Sulu’s total land area and is the 7th poorest municipality in the province. Coconut farming is the main source of farmers’ livelihood, followed by cassava, and banana among others.
There are a total of 382 SAAD beneficiaries in the municipality from 2018-2021 under different project commodities such as cassava, corn, peanut production, rice production, and livestock and poultry including goat, native chicken, and layer chicken-egg project.
One of the beneficiaries is Amil Habibi Jalal, a 29-year-old person with disability (PWD) with kyphosis, a disorder related to the upper spine, more commonly known as roundback or hunchback. Amil lives with his mother in a makeshift house in Barangay Lumping Pigih Daho, Talipao. While his siblings already have their own families, Amil took the responsibility to look after his mom when his father passed away.
Prior to SAAD, Amil’s monthly earnings come from working as an abaca shredder for Php 2,000, while also working as a laborer in a coconut farm earning another Php 1,000 monthly, in addition to his PWD stipend of Php 1,000 from the Ministry of Social Service and Development (MSSD).
Amil joined the Sahaya Sin Kawman (SSK) association in 2021. The 23 members of the farmers’ association (FA) are mostly abaca shredders with an average income of Php 2,000 monthly.
In a conversation with a SAAD staff, Amil shares his aspiration, “Naka-angan-angan ako magpatindog bay namo, bang hain kami mahayang iban mahanong”, he stated in a hopeful voice.
(I dream of building a house for my mother and I, where we will be safer than where we live now.)
Layer Chicken Egg Production in Talipao
In 2021, the needs assessment conducted by SAAD Region 9 found out that there are no egg production facilities within the FA’s vicinity, and it was an opportunity to introduce a layer egg project so the association can supply their community. Thus, Amil along with other members of SSK association received the FY 2021 Layer Chicken Egg Production project.
In September 2021, 16 members of the FA received the Layer Chicken Egg production project worth Php 973, 099.40 (Table 1), and utilized their 120 square meter Egg Layer production facility built as counterpart for the project. On the other hand, the remaining seven members of the FA were chosen as beneficiaries of the FY 2022 Cassava, Corn, and Peanut production project of SAAD worth Php 282,198.
Table 1. Interventions received by the FA under FY 2021 Layer Chicken-Egg production
According to SSK FA president Ms. Arfaina A. Antayari, when the group started the layer chicken project’s operation in September 2021, members agreed on a rotational duty to manage the project especially during high egg production period. Amil shared his experience during his rotational duty,
“Misan nya ako kikita byaini, nangtuyo tumabang naghinang ha manok mag iklog. Amun dihil sin SAAD, tyatanto namu sin malano in pag-iitlogan manok, pagpakaunon namu in manok ha waktu iban pagkolekon namu in itlog adlaw-adlaw ha 10 adlaw namu pagsangsa.”
(Even when you see that I am differently abled, I work hard to contribute to the tasks in attending to the poultry project SAAD gave. I maintain cleanliness of the chicken coop, and the egg machine. I feed the chickens, and harvest the eggs daily, during our rotational 10-day duty.)
By October 2021, the FA started harvesting eggs. With the knowledge imparted by SAAD during the technical training of the association on proper poultry management on June 6, 2021, the farmers were able to operate without struggle. As of July 2022, the FA was able to earn a bank savings total of Php 126,273.12.
Table 2. SSK FA‘s sales from October 2021 to July 2022
After his rotational duty in the Egg Layer project, Amil finds time to still work as abaca shredder and as a laborer in the coconut farm during harvest season to earn extra for himself and his mother.
“I started earning Php 1,000 up to Php 1,300 dividends monthly, depending on the egg harvests. More eggs means more income. With this additional income, I have enough to provide for me and my mother and continue saving so that I can finally build my dream house,” shared Amil Jalal.
The FA also took the initiative to establish a ‘paluwagan’ among the 16 members operating the Egg Layer project. A paluwagan is a common money-lending system in rural areas, similar to a rotating savings system in other associations or groups where members contribute a monthly portion of their income into a common fund and take turns getting payout in an agreed schedule.
“I have shared a total of Php 500 for a month in our paluwagan. This helped our members who are in need of finances. When it was my turn, I received Php 8,000. I am very happy that I was able to use the money to buy materials needed to start building our house,” Amil Jalal shared with joy.
The FA is now caring for a total of 572 chickens, producing 13-19 trays per day and plans to replenish the stocks in April 2023.
Today, Amil Jalal continues to work hard and save his earnings to finish building a better home for his family.
With the presence of DA-SAAD in Sulu, more farmers, families and communities shall be able to live an improved quality of life. ###
Writer: Ellaine L. Quiamco, SAAD Region 9 Information Officer