SULU, June 28, 2023 – The Department of Agriculture – Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) Program in Region 9 delivered its final set of livelihood assistance to 325 farmers in Patikul, Sulu, supporting food production and food availability for the formerly “bakwit” communities who just recently reclaimed their land that became a setting for lawless elements’ activities.
Seven (7) farmer associations (FAs) including the Langhub FA (65 members), Maligay FA (45 members), Alindang Buhanginan FA (45 members), Latih FA (45 members), Tugas FA (45 members), Panglayahan FA (45 members), and Bakung FA (35 members) received packs of assorted vegetable seeds under the Vegetable Production Project.
The intervention serves as complementary support to their Banana, Corn and Layer Chicken Egg Production Project which aims to provide the former “bakwit” or Internally Displaced People (IDP) a sustainable livelihood support and help increase their income through vegetable production. The intervention comprises 800 packs of OPV assorted vegetable seeds (1g of ampalaya, 30g of okra, 1g of eggplant, 1g of tomato, 1g of pechay, 8g of pole sitao, 4g of calabasa, and 12g of upland kangkong per pack) worth Php 214,400.00. Each member will start to cultivate vegetables in their individual backyard gardens for consumption and market enterprise.
The seven (7) SAAD groups of farmers with a total of 325 members are Internally Displaced People (IDP) communities some in a maximum of 20 years in Patikul, Sulu, a remote and armed conflicted area. There are 1,954 households and IDPs who are beneficiaries of the Balik Barangay Program (BBP) of the Municipal Task Force to End Armed Conflict (MTF-ELAC) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) since August 2020.
BBP is one of the many programs of the MTF-ELAC of the Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu headed by the 11th Infantry Division to attain inclusive and sustainable peace. It encourages displaced locals to return to their barangays by rehabilitating their communities, setting up infrastructures sustainable such as roads, water sources, prayer houses, and livelihood opportunities among others.
The DA-SAAD Region 9 was among the first to implement livelihood projects that promote development in Patikul to aid the Tausug communities to resume farming as livelihood, equipping them with complete farm inputs and quality planting materials.
In 2022, the seven (7) FAs were formed and included as beneficiaries of the SAAD program and were initially awarded agricultural inputs on Banana Production, Corn Production, and Layer Chicken Egg Production Project amounting to a combined Php 11,423,250.50 under FY 2022.
The said interventions are part of the Department of Agriculture’s initiatives to support Executive Order No. 70 in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace and socio-economic development of the farmers in marginalized and armed conflict areas in the country.
Patikul is an agricultural town where rice, corn, and fish are the major products. Usually, vegetable farmers in Sulu produce these crops for food consumption, while some sell their product for additional income to cover daily household expenses.
The Vegetable Production Project is the last intervention that the DA-SAAD Program Phase 1 under the RFO 9 commits to deliver in Patikul under the FY 2022 continuing fund to boost vegetable production for consumption and enterprising purposes.
For SAAD Phase 2, Sulu is no longer included in the DA-SAAD Region 9 coverage area. As of writing, the FAs were endorsed to their respective LGUs in the said province for support. In response, the LGUs committed to provide continuous monitoring and coordination to sustain and enhance the groups’ operations. ###
Writer: Ellaine L. Quiamco, DA-SAAD Region 9 Information Officer