In line with the objectives of the Department of Agriculture – Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) Program to contribute to poverty alleviation in the country, it ensures that agricultural assistance reaches the areas with the most limited access, and aid beneficiaries for daily sustenance that could develop into livelihood. The vulnerable sectors, such as the senior citizens due to their comorbidities, were among the selected beneficiaries of the program.
Ms. Rosalina Tolentino, a 70-year-old member of the Emilia, Capannikian, San Antonio (ECASAN) Farmers Association (FA), received inputs for the Poultry and Egg Production Project last 2021. Established in 2017, the ECASAN FA is composed of 30 members who are mainly poultry raisers and rice farmers.
Born and raised in Brgy. Capannikian, Pudtol, Apayao, she was known as Inang Saling who is a farmer and a mother of nine children. Her previous source of income was tobacco buy-and-sell and then became dependent on poultry raising for 55 years to sustain her family’s needs. Currently, she is living with one of her children since most of them already have families of their own. With the struggles brought by old age, working tedious tasks is not advisable for her, especially that she was diagnosed with diabetes.
Despite her age and condition, she is still able to ensure her daily sustenance through the poultry products she acquired from the chickens she received from the program.
“Ita nga bumaket nak metten haan nak unay makaubran ta addo met sak-sakit’ekon. Iti makaya’k nga ubraen itan ket agtaraken iti manok iti arubayak, ta isu mangsu-supop iti inaldaw ko,” Ms. Tolentino expressed.
(Now that I’m old, I can’t work that much because of my illnesses. The only thing I can do now is take care of my poultry stock so that I can earn for my daily needs.)
In 2021, 16 first-in-line beneficiaries from ECASAN FA received 480 head of free-range chicken, comprising 80 males and 400 females, and supplemented with anti-infectives, chicken grower, layer mash, corn grits, rice bran, and plastic crates. The said interventions were under the Poultry and Egg Production Project (FY 2021) worth Php 419,120.00 which was proposed by the association after a community consultation.
The first batch of recipients were selected through identifying members who were already poultry raisers and owned a backyard with at least 30 square meters. The program also provided a Package of Technology (POT) on Chicken Production Training to hone their skills in poultry and egg production. Inang Saling’s poultry raising experience was one of the reasons why the association prioritized her to receive at least 30 head of poultry stock for livelihood.
“Dakkel iti naitulong iti SAAD program kanyak ta nanayunan iti pagkakitaak,” (SAAD program helped me a lot because it increased the current money that I have) Inang Saling shared since the financial assistance being given to her by her children was not enough to support her medical needs and sustenance.
To manage the project, each member is required to give at least 20 pieces of egg per month to the association for their enterprise. ECASAN FA supplies eggs to their neighbourhood. Inang Saling ensures that the eggs she gives to the association were purely from her SAAD-given free range chickens. Meanwhile, she also strategizes to mix the breed of her free range chickens with her existing stocks and sell their offsprings to gain additional income.
Through the project, Inang Saling was able to maintain her contribution to the association. On her part as an individual, she was able to earn and multiply her original stock.
From April to June 2022, the stocks given by SAAD and Inang Saling’s existing stocks produced 175 head of chicken. Meanwhile, 48 head of chicken were sold to the Municipality of Luna, accumulating a total of Php 8,100.00. With her expenses mostly designated to buying feeds, she mixes it with corn grits as an alternative to save money but it still ensures that the chickens would be meaty.
Table 1. Inang Saling’s 2022 chicken production
Inang Saling expressed that she feels grateful towards the program for giving her the opportunity to become one of its beneficiaries. Additionally, she shared that her earnings were used for her medical operation and medication for diabetes complications.
Recovering from the said procedure, Inang Saling’s poultry production currently has 127 remaining chickens that are yet to be sold, and are taken care of by her children and other ECASAN FA co-members. Currently, they aim to produce more offspring to be sold the following year.
In this context, Inang Saling is only one of the members belonging to the senior citizen sector who is experiencing limitations in livelihood opportunities due to her old age. However, the DA-SAAD Program was able to provide a new chance for her to sustain herself and her family’s daily needs.
She plans to continue selling her stock after recovering and once the production period is over since there are established potential buyers in their neighbourhood. ###
Writer: Kathleen Faye B. Agonoy, DA-SAAD Apayao Information Officer