QUEZON CITY, June 12, 2023 – In its Phase 1 implementation until its renewed Phase 2, the Department of Agriculture – Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) has been a staunch mover of its four (4) components namely: (a) social preparation; (b) food production and livelihood; (c) marketing assistance and enterprise development; and (d) program management.
The four (4) components serve as the guiding principles of the program in rendering agricultural development services in the top 30 provinces that recorded the highest poverty incidence rates from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) 2012 data.
As it rounds off its Phase 1 implementation, the program across its 11 covered regions was able to assist in the establishment of 465 community-based enterprises (CBEs) from 2017 to 2022. Presently, the 465 CBEs are continuously conducting economic activities as well as providing access to agricultural-related services to their community from mechanized land preparation, to offering value-added products, to diversifying the community’s food source.
In ushering in the establishment of the farmers’ associations’ (FAs’) enterprises, the third component, marketing assistance, and enterprise development (MAED) ensures the viability of the said goal. MAED component encompasses economic-related activities that assist and support livelihood projects to progress into enterprises, as well as conducting a series of training from financial literacy and management to value-adding products.
MAED sub-unit head and regional counterparts also outline mechanisms for CBEs to find means to sustain the source of income subsequent to improving the socio-economic status of the beneficiaries.
This could be in the form of mapping out markets and market trends in a certain locale that is in the direction of expanding the market network and economic opportunities of the CBEs and garnering partnerships for further market visibility. All these are made possible with strong linkage to local government units (LGUs), other DA agencies and programs, and even private entities and non-government organizations (NGOs).
Value-adding in agricultural produce is not a foreign concept, considering agricultural produce is the very state of raw materials or ingredients, hence value-adding them is not a cutting-edge concept and is pretty much the default practice. However, despite the existing need to value-add agricultural produce, not all farmers have access to capital and credit or mere necessary tools and equipment to actualize value-adding enable to increase the value of their products.
As an agricultural development program that aims to contribute to poverty reduction in 30 provinces in the country that recorded high poverty incidence rates, by thoroughly assessing target beneficiaries, and providing them agricultural inputs and training (organizational and technical) that are responsive to their needs and community, building an environment for farmers and fisherfolk to venture in marketing and enterprise development.
SAAD in its overarching aim to economically empower farmers and fisherfolk, lay the groundwork to generate agripreneurs and cooperatives in the countryside to give beneficiaries vital profit-making avenues that will continuously sustain their basic needs and in essence food security for all.
In its Phase 1 implementation, SAAD was able to conduct a total of 195 training related to value-adding, marketing, and enterprise development to a total of 8,084 FA members across its 11 covered regions.
The value-adding training varies from meat processing, chip making, rice cake, dairy products, winery, ice cream, noodles, broom, soap, herbal tea, coffee, and more, depending on the commodities the FAs are engaged with.
Bicolano FAs value-adding endeavor
One of the successful community-based enterprises (CBEs) in Sorsogon, Bicol is the Añog Corn Farmers’ Association situated in the municipality of Juban. Añog Corn FA members are mainly corn farmers and as for their second crop, the FA members also plant cassava.
The FA was formed in 2020 with 34 members. In the same year, they already received white and yellow corn seeds, fertilizer, cassava seedpieces, corn grits miller, mechanical corn sheller, cassava chipper, and draft animals, all under the Upland Corn Production of FY 2020.
Subsequently, with the provision of agricultural inputs from the program, the FA has seen an incremental increase in their harvest. Later in 2021, SAAD Bicol introduced the value-adding corn and cassava crops to the FA, facilitated by the SAAD Regional Program Support Office (RPMSO). In April 2021 SAAD Bicol conducted a value-adding training under the Training on Corn Production and Enterprise Development FY 2022. The training introduces the FAs to a variety of recipes like chips or kropek, kakanin (rice cake) like puto and biko, and polvoron.
Further, the FA members were able to utilize social media platforms to engage in marketing activities.
In times of calamity
When Mt. Bulusan in Sorsogon erupted in June 2022 the Office of the Civil Defense in Bicol reported that the region incurred an estimated Php 17 million agricultural losses. Precedently, the Añog Corn FA which is situated in the municipality of Juban had endured agricultural loss. FA members were unable to immediately go back to their farmlands since it was all covered with ashes from the eruption.
The value-added products of the FAs like cassava cake and taro chips, became the main profit-generating activity for the members since only cassava crops survived the eruption. It took a couple of months before the FA members could finally access their devastated farmlands and continue farming activities.
From the recent field visit of the SAAD National Program Management Office (NPMO) – Public Relation and Development Communication (PRDC) team in their community for the creation of the Unlad Lokal Coffee Table Book, the FA members shared how some of them were able to buy a television from their income, some were able to fund the repair of their houses. The additional profit-generating opportunity for the FA members brought by the SAAD intervention only contributes to uplifting the economic capacity of the members.
It’s all about giving access
SAAD Program understands how giving farmers access to inputs, and machinery from land preparation to post-harvest until value-adding paves the way to a multitude of opportunities in the countryside, prompting effective and efficient production resulting in wider possible profit-generating opportunities for them.
To further showcase the value-adding of FAs, SAAD NPMO PRDC is set to publish Unlad Lokal Coffee Table Book that will highlight progressive community-based enterprises (CBEs) from the 11 regions Phase 1-covered areas, Añog Corn FA will be one of the featured CBEs in the said coffee table book that will be published in January 2024.###
Writer: Allanes Bagoso, DA-SAAD NPMO Information Officer
Sources: Maria Ligaya Renegado, SAAD Bicol Area Coordinator