ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, January 3, 2023 – Postharvest equipment and corn production support were granted to 165 indigenous Subanen and 159 farmers of Corn Production project in Zamboanga del Norte for the last wave of livelihood assistance and support distribution of the Department of Agriculture – Special Area of Agricultural Development’s (DA-SAAD) Phase 1 implementation.
SAAD in Zamboanga del Norte recognizes the potential of said beneficiaries to finally begin to embark in another level of project implementation and sustainability initiative – transforming the production into community-based enterprises (CBEs).
In total, seven (7) FAs received interventions including units of corn compact mill and corn husker-sheller worth Php 3,665,952.
Table 1. Machinery received by the FCAs under Corn Production Project
The 324 beneficiaries from the five (5) municipalities and two (2) cities in the province are farmers mostly producing corn, banana, rubber and other crops. Some are farming for their own consumption, while few are tenants whose harvested produce are shared between them and the land owner.
The postharvest machines are aimed at increasing efficiency and convenience of harvest processing. This support is also expected to lessen beneficiaries expenses, a crucial stepping stone to become a fully established CBE, while also providing more income opportunities by utilizing the machines for service rental outside the association members.
Of the 7 FAs, Lipay Indigenous FA and Upper Disakan FA are the 2 newly identified beneficiaries of SAAD for 2022, while the rest of the FAs are existing farmer groups supported by the program.
San Nicolas FA president Prelogio Quiñanola, in an interview, shared their struggles when doing the postharvest processing tasks.
“Ang amoa gyud naandan, pag-ani sa mais, kami ra mag panit, hangtod mag lubo sa mais gamit ang banggoran, usahay maluthan pa among kamot binanggod,” he stated.
(We used to do everything manually during postharvest processing like manual husking of leaves and hairs from the corn cobs and shelling corn kernels off the cob using the traditional bangguran [manual corn grater] and sometimes we get blisters in our hands.)
The corn husker-sheller is a dual-purpose machine used to remove the husk of corn ear and detach, separate, and clean the corn kernels from the cobs in one operation while the corn compact mill is used for white corn to produce good quality corn grits. These products serve as the farmers’ staple food, while some portions are sold to the local market.
Usually, the laborious shelling of a sack of corn kernels off the cob would take an hour or two to finish, but with the equipment, the farmers will just spend at most five (5) minutes to do it effortlessly.
San Nicolas FA in Dapitan City is a beneficiary of the DA-SAAD’s Corn Production Project since 2021. The FA members are depending on corn farming as their main source of livelihood.
Mr. Quiñanola also mentioned that through the Program’s provision of interventions, some of them are able to expand their corn farms, thus some of the produce were sold.
“Sa unang cropping namo sa mais miaging tuig, naka harvest mi ug 52,210 ka kilo nga mais sa 50 ka ektarya nga baul. Ang uban, nagbaligya, ang uban ila gipondo pang konsumo. Sa akoa, naka halin ko ug Php 5,000 kapin gikan sa mais,” he shared.
(During the first cropping last year, we were able to harvest 52,210 kilograms (kg) of produce from the accumulated 50 hectares (ha) of farm. Other members sold some of their produce, while the remaining were stocked for their consumption. As for my produce, I was able to sell more than Php 5,000 from it.)
The San Nicolas FA, among other FA beneficiaries, formulated a policy to ensure that the equipment will be well taken care of. For safekeeping, the machinery will be stored near the barangay hall and will be available for rent at Php 25 per sack of corn. The money earned from rental will be used for its maintenance. The amount is way lower compared to how much they will pay outside the association.
Before the machines were delivered on November 29 to December 1, 2022, a demonstration was conducted by the supplier of the machine on November 29, where beneficiaries were taught how to operate the corn compact mill and corn husker-sheller including its preventive maintenance.
Mr. Quiñanola expressed his gratitude to SAAD for the provision of livelihood opportunities for two years now.
“Tungod sa SAAD, nabati namo nga importante mi. Tungod sa SAAD, na ila mi nga mag uuma sa San Nicolas, ug mas gipalambo pa nila among panginabuhian. Wala man mi nadato pero gihatagan mi nila ug tabang nga nakapa taas taas sa among panginabuhian,” he said.
(Because of SAAD, we felt valued. Because of SAAD, we were recognized as farmers in San Nicolas. We did not become rich but they gave us help that improved our living conditions.)
Other FAs are now in their second cropping of the year, expecting their harvest between December 2022 to January 2023.###
Writer: Aimee Lou Madjus, DA-SAAD Zamboanga del Norte Information Officer
Sources: Maria Liza Miral, Zamboanga del Norte Technical staff for Marketing and Area Coordinator
Nurhainar Salim, Zamboanga del Norte Area Coordinator
Christine Grace Bajao, Zamboanga del Norte Area Coordinator
Stephen Sayre, Zamboanga del Norte Area Coordinator
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