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970 Catanduanes farmers graduate from the SAAD Program

CATANDUANES, December 13, 2022 – Thirty-eight (38) farmer associations (FAs) consisting of nine hundred seventy (970) farmer-beneficiaries from the province of Catanduanes were commended in a series of recognition ceremonies conducted by the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program – Catanduanes to honor their commitment and success during the program’s first phase of implementation. The activity also aimed to link the SAAD beneficiaries with other banner programs of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and other in-line agencies for project sustainability.

Catanduanes, along with its neighboring provinces; Masbate and Sorsogon, became SAAD-covered areas in 2018. The selection of the said provinces was based on the identification of poorest provinces by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in 2012 and 2015 as well as areas covered by Executive Order No. 70, series of 2018.

With the goal of alleviating poverty among the marginalized sectors of agriculture in the province, six (6) municipalities were selected, namely: Bagamanoc, Baras, Bato, Gigmoto, Panganiban, and San Miguel.

Before the arrival of SAAD in the province, the farmers in Catanduanes were into abaca farming, copra, fishing, construction, and other jobs available for them to provide their daily and primary necessities.  From 2018-2022, 38 FAs were established by SAAD.

Table 1. Catanduanes FAs established in Phase 1

SAAD Phase 1

Undoubtedly, the first five years of implementation was not an easy task. Having been dubbed as the “Land of the Howling Winds”, natural calamities such as typhoons frequent the island that affect the livelihood of the farmers. Through the unwavering resiliency of the farmers along with the SAAD Program’s assistance, they always find ways to recover.


Furthermore, SAAD Catanduanes staff became the first hand witnesses of the success of the farmers in the province. Efren Tablizo, Catanduanes Area Coordinator (AC) shared that SAAD Program opened new opportunities for farmers who were earning insufficient income from a single farming commodity.

Abner T. Torzar, San Roque Palay Association president shared that the interventions of SAAD made it possible for them to have steady income while having easy access and sufficient food for their table. Comparing their lives then and now, basic products such as vegetables, eggs, and rice have been accessible to them. Aside from the free produce, they are also guaranteed of its quality and freshness. Thankful enough with their success, he wishes that SAAD may be able to help many more farmers and fishers.

Recognition Ceremonies

Rafael Magallanes, Catanduanes Agricultural Program Coordinating Officer (APCO), Dean Medrano, Catanduanes Hilly Upland Development Station (CHUDS) Research Outreach Station (ROS) Superintendent, and provincial SAAD staff graced the ceremonies ushering farmers until they are formally endorsed to banner and other programs. Testimonies were also given by representatives from participating FAs.

Further, the LGU, who remains a constant partner of the program witnessed the events joined by Municipal Agriculturists and Municipal Mayors and representatives from each municipality. Each association received sets of garden tools (wheelbarrow, plastic mulch, vegetable twine, and sprinkler) as a simple token of appreciation.

Andrew Valatero, Salvacion Farmers Association (SFA) President, said that SAAD’s implementation gave them a consistent source of living.  “Before, puro plano, kalkulasyon at imahinasyon. Di namin alam kung saan kukuha ng puhunan  at mga kagamitan para sa pananim” (We made a lot of plans but they were never executed properly. We had no idea where we could get money to buy gardening equipment), said Mr. Salvacion.

Meanwhile, Ma. Gina Torente, a member of the Tobrehon Poultry Raisers Association, shared her experience that being part of the SAAD Program did not immediately guarantee instant success. It needed patience and perseverance. Having been part of FAs only this year, she hopes and continues to work hard together with her co-members to make their project a true success.

San Vicente Gigmoto Duck Association (SVGDA) President Elen P. Garcia recalled times when people doubted their association’s capabilities. “Kaidto, dai sinda nanubod na kakayanon namo an proyektong ini. Dakol nin mga sabi sabi buda daing tiwala sa amo. Pero ngonian, an samong asosasyon padagos an paghigos asin mahihiling na ini gauswag asin tunay na nakatabang sa amo. Sa ngonian na kita itu-turn over sa satong LGU asin ibang programa kan DA, sakong promesa na padagos and samong paghigos nganing ma-sustain an proyekto na ipinagkatiwala sa amo. Mabalos sa SAAD asin sa gabos,” she said.

(A lot of people doubted our ability to keep the project going, but we stood firm and continued our hard work until the project bloomed and helped us in our everyday lives. Now that we are being turned over to the Local Government Unit [LGU] and other DA programs, we promise that we will continue to thrive and make sure that we benefit from the project entrusted to us for a long time. Thank you, SAAD! Thank you, everyone!)

In celebration of the success of the program in the province, farmers showcased their talents with intermission numbers, and gathered for a small feast that displayed some of their products such as squash yema, polvoron, leche flan, puto, pickled and fresh eggs, and fresh vegetables which helped them earn additional income.

Phase 2 program extension

FAs included in the phase 1 implementation may no longer be included in the program’s Phase 2 due to its change of criteria in selecting beneficiaries. The SAAD Program Phase 2 implementation will cover 5th and 6th class municipalities as well as the top third municipalities with high poverty incidence rate among families from the PSA statistics in 2018. However, LGUs and other agencies assured that the farmers will still be given assistance, and the SAAD Program will also continue its monitoring efforts as support to the farmer associations.

Based on the guidelines set by the SAAD National Program Management Office (NPMO), the same six (6) municipalities will still be selected as SAAD-covered areas in the province, with the municipality of Viga belonging to the new priority areas. ###

Writer: Jovinel M. Gianan, DA-SAAD Catanduanes Information Officer

Melrose Buetre, DA-SAAD Catanduanes Provincial Coordinator
Nelly R. Emerenciana, DA- SAAD Catanduanes Area Coordinator
Rea Tomagan, DA- SAAD Catanduanes Area Coordinator
Efren Tablizo, Jr., DA- SAAD Catanduanes Area Coordinator

Photo Sources:
Jovinel M. Gianan, DA-SAAD Catanduanes Information Officer
Bagamanoc Local Government Unit
SAAD Regional Program Management Support Office

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