By Mike U. Crismundo

BUTUAN CITY – Amidst coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Department of Agriculture (DA) –Caraga delivers 96 bags of corn seeds to five beneficiary associations of the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program in Surigao del Sur, said DA 13 Regional Spokesperson Emmylou T. Presilda, on Saturday.

The bags of OPV white corn seeds worth P172,800 will benefit 148 members of five indigenous associations in Carmen town, Bislig City, and Lingig town, all of Surigao del Sur province, she said.

They are among the people in Caraga region belonging to areas classified by the Philippine Statistics Authority (2015) with the highest poverty incidence.

For these projects alone, SAAD-Caraga allotted P583, 670.97 for Gacub Agricultural Farmers’ Association (GAFA); P690,049.03 for Mag-uumang Manobo sa Hinapoyan Association (MAMASAHI); P112,566.67 for Chicken Raisers’ Association of Burboanan (CRAB); P77,733.33 for Burboanan Native Chicken Association (BURNACHICA); and P668,000 for Pinanapatan Farmers’ Association.

Prior to SAAD’s intervention, some of these indigenous recipients had been planting corn. Aside from agricultural inputs, SAAD provided training on corn production last year to equip them with the appropriate technologies needed to have an optimized production not only for subsistence consumption but also for market purposes.

According to MAMASAHI President Venancio P. Meniano, his association will plant the corn seeds by August this year. The produce of which they will both sell and consume.

“We will plant these seeds in August this year so that we can harvest by December. We plan to sell our products and save some for our consumption.”

Most of these associations have been SAAD recipients since 2019. Aside from corn production, Bislig’s CRAB and BURNACHICA are also raising native chickens.

Despite the region being under quarantine due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, SAAD – Caraga ensures that all target projects are sustained with deliveries of agricultural inputs. The rest of the deliverables, i.e., fertilizers, vegetable seeds, farm tools, laminated sacks, and biologics, are expected to be distributed in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.

SAAD is a locally-funded program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) intended to help alleviate poverty among the marginalized sectors of agriculture and fishery in the country. Since 2019, DA Caraga has started providing SAAD projects in Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur.