SORSOGON, November 22, 2022 – Sixteen (16) farmers associations (FAs) consisting of 598 farmers from the Municipality of Pilar, Sorsogon were the first group of beneficiaries in the Bicol Region to “graduate” from the Department of Agriculture – Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) Program.
The Municipality of Pilar was one of the 18 pioneer municipalities of the Phase 1 implementation in Bicol that were selected in 2018 based on the 2015 poverty incidence report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). The other municipalities in Sorsogon included Magallanes, Sta. Magdalena, Donsol, Juban, and Matnog.
Before the arrival of SAAD interventions, the said farmers seldom received government interventions due to the remoteness of their areas. However, upon SAAD’s inception in their municipality, it assisted in organizing bonafide associations which were now registered under the Department of Labor and Employment, and provided them with complete packages of interventions to increase food production and income, and ultimately build sustainable community-based enterprises (CBEs).
Table 1. List of Pilar FAs which graduated from the SAAD Program
Aside from their consistent production of high value crops, corn, rice, and livestock raw products such as eggs and meat, the aforementioned associations are currently engaging in food processing and producing cassava chips, peanut brittle, peanut butter, vegetable pickles, and corn chicharon, among others.
The DA-SAAD Program in Pilar managed 10 livelihood projects, assisted 111 individual farmers, formed 16 groups with 598 members, conducted 1 social preparation and 92 batches of specialized training, and established 5 CBEs from 2018 to 2022.
It can be noted that the poverty incidence rate in the province of Sorsogon based on the PSA 2015 data was 31.7% and reduced to 19.5% in 2018.
Poctol Backyard Farmers Association (PBFA) President, Randy Argote recalled how the SAAD Program helped them with their crops production. “Kami po ay sarong Backyard Farmers Association, pero ngunyan po, hekta-hektarya na an samuyang tanuman. Iyo po ini an resulta kan mga tabang na itinao samuya kan SAAD Program. Pinahiwas, pinadakula ninda an samuyang tanuman sa paagi kan saindang mga intervention.”
(Our association started farming in our own backyards, but now, we have our own communal area which was made possible by the help of the SAAD Program through their interventions.)
PBFA was one of the associations awarded with a multicultivator and a Solar Power Irrigation System (SPIS) under the Vegetable Production and Enterprise Development package in August 2022. The provisions helped address their problems on water shortage and modernized their process of land tilling.
SAAD Phase 2
Pilar will no longer be part of the Phase 2 implementation of the DA-SAAD Program which will run from 2023 to 2028. The new criteria of selecting beneficiaries for the Phase 2 will now cover 5th to 6th class municipalities or municipalities included in the top third with highest poverty incidence rates from the PSA in 2018.
Pilar Mayor Carolyn Sy-Reyes, who also graced the event, shared the strong commitment of the local government unit (LGU) to sustain the momentum set by the SAAD in terms of project implementation. The DA-SAAD staff have endorsed the FAs to the LGU on the said day in which the LGU promised to assist them especially if they need to connect with other DA banner programs.
Moreover, Naspi Agricultural Workers Association (NAWA) Secretary, Marvie Prieto expressed her gratitude to the DA and the SAAD. “Kaming mga nasa hababang sektor, dakula po an samong kaogmahan ta natawan pansin an samong pangangaipo bilang farmers. Nagigibo mi na po ngonian sa madaling proseso an samuyang mga produkto dahil sa kitchen tools asin machineries na itinao samo kan SAAD.” (We are truly happy that the SAAD Program provided us with our needs as farmers. Our products are now made faster and more seamless because of the machineries and kitchen tools they have provided us.)
The graduation ceremony was held at the Pilar Gymnasium and was attended by Former Sorsogon Agricultural Program Coordinating Officer (APCO) Florentino Ubalde Jr., newly designated Sorsogon APCO Roser Rebellon, Sorsogon Office of the Provincial Agriculturist representative Tomas Diesta, Pilar Municipal Agriculture Office Officer-in-Charge Marites Rebellon, Pilar Administrator Arthur Garchitorena, DA-Bicol High Value Crops Development Program representative and SAAD Action Officer Renato Acasio, and the SAAD Provincial Program Management Support Office (PPMSO) in Sorsogon.
Additionally, some of the highlights of the graduation were the turnover of 1 set of garden tools, 1 unit of wheelbarrow, 1 roll of plastic mulch, and 300 packets of vegetable seeds to each of the associations present. Further, the Search for Ms. SAAD Sorsogon competition crowned Ms. Minerva V. Pineda, a member of Salvacion Integrated Farmers’ Association.
In another development, the SAAD Bicol Regional Program Management Support Office has conducted preparatory activities for the implementation of Phase 2 led by Dr. Mary Grace Rodriguez, SAAD Focal Person in Bicol. ###
Writer: Lovella P. Guarin, DA Bicol RAFIS
Maribeth Mangalino, DA-SAAD Report Officer
Mary Rose Detera, DA-SAAD Sorsogon Provincial Coordinator
Jonas Guañizo, DA-SAAD Sorsogon Area Coordinator
Pauline Trixia Borja, DA-SAAD Sorsogon Information Officer
Eduardo Collantes, Jr., DA Bicol RAFIS
LGU Pilar, Sorsogon
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