By Mike U. Crismundo

BUTUAN CITY – Members of the Manobo tribe in Caraga region received bags of inbred rice seeds from the government, in an effort to help them in this time of crisis due by coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Department of Agriculture (DA 13) Regional Spokesperson Emmylou T. Presilda told The Manila Bulletin on Friday afternoon that the members of Ocao Farmers’ Association of Rosario, in Agusan del Sur province initially received 30 bags of inbred rice seeds through the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program of the DA – Caraga Region 13.

Together with his members, Rodel Rodrigo, chairman of the Manobo Association, received the rice seeds turned over by Ariel Obillos, SAAD Area Coordinator, at Barangay Novele, in Rosario town, Agusan del Sur province, the region’s DA 13 spokesperson added.

“We are thankful that the DA through SAAD has provided us with rice seeds. This would have cost us P1,500. With these free seeds, our production cost is lessened,”, said Rodrigo, in vernacular.

The supply of rice seeds and other agricultural inputs are part of the SAAD interventions that aim to establish agri-communal enterprises in areas with high poverty incidence in the region.

Since 2019, members of Ocao FA (27 indigenous people and 3 non-IPs) have undergone technical training on rice production.

With the training and agricultural inputs, the association will have the means to plant rice by the next cropping season covering 30 hectares.

For this year, the association will receive a total worth of ₱875,800 for rice production support.

Rice production and livestock production is the main force in the labor market in ADS. As such, this intervention will eventually help address concerns on food production and poverty at the local level.

DA – Caraga, although slightly hampered by the CoVID-19 pandemic, continuously rolls out interventions to the SAAD recipients in Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur, DA 13 Regional Spokesperson Ms. Presilda added.