By Lovella P. Guarin
SORSOGON CITY --- For 2018, the province of Sorsogon is one of the three Bicol provinces included in the 10 priority provinces of the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) nationwide.
Last December 6, 2017, the SAAD national and regional team convened the municipal agriculturists and local chief executives of the priority municipalities in this province for an orientation.
SAAD national Program Director Bernadette F. San Juan, in her presentation, said that the program is one of the strategies that Secretary Manny F. Piñol introduced upon his assumption of DA’s top post to alleviate poverty and achieve food security.
The program started in 2016 in the 10 poorest provinces of the country, looking into the weaknesses of these areas, and their potentials in food production and livelihood programs.
Each year from 2017 to 2022, SAAD will focus on 10 marginal provinces. The SAAD program anchors on Social Preparation and Food Production and Livelihood as tools to reduce poverty. To achieve greatest impact, Director San Juan explained that this program will reach the poorest of the poor in far flung areas who have not received any interventions from the regular programs of the Department of Agriculture.
Sorsogon Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) Chief Dominador O. Jardin said the SAAD program will boost the poorest municipalities of the province. Sorsogon’s top commodities are pili, seaweeds, abaca, coconut and cacao, he added.
Florentino Ubalde, Jr. DA - Agricultural Program Coordinating Officer for Sorsogon presented the profile of the province. Sorsogon has 14 municipalities, one city and 541 barangays with two congressional districts. It covers an area of 2,141.44 square kilometers.
According to 2015 reports of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Sorsogon has 31.65% poverty incidence.
Matnog, has the highest poverty incidence rate among the local population (2015) at 45.2% and is one of six priority municipalities in Sorsogon under SAAD along with Donsol which has 44.1% poverty incidence, Magallanes (44.1%), Pilar (42.5%), Juban (37.3%), and Sta. Magdalena (35.5%).
Director San Juan said SAAD targets the poorest of the poor, with agriculture related experience or willing to engage in agriculture. “Kahit yung mga nakiki-ani lang sa mga sakahan. Hindi kailangang may lupa. Maari ding i-organize ang mga out of school youths,” she stressed.
DA Bicol OIC Regional Technical Director for Operations and Extension Rodel P. Tornilla shared that Sorsogon farmer-beneficiaries will first undergo training on crops and livestock production, value-adding activities, and enterprise development before receiving the program interventions in the form of upland rice seeds, fertilizers, garden tools and equipment, goat, native pig, native chicken and ducks.
He also added that they will adopt the multiplier farm strategy, where next-in-line beneficiaries will ensure that the project interventions will reach them as well.
The program aims to establish small agri enterprises in the poorest barangays and ensure that there is food always in their homes.
Also present during the orientation were Mayor Benito Doma of Prieto Diaz; Regional Dairy Production and Technology Center (RDPTC) station superintendent Dolores Ricafranca; and the area coordinators who will officially start on their jobs in January 2018. The SAAD team of Sorsogon will hold office at the RDPTC in Cabid-an, Sorsogon City.