By Mike U. Crismundo

BUTUAN CITY – As an aid to farmers at the height of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Department of Agriculture (DA)- Caraga distributed 880 heads of upgraded native chickens in Barangay Muritula, San Luis, Agusan del Sur, recently, DA 13 Regional Information Officer Emmylou T. Presilda, on Tuesday afternoon said.

Funded through the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program, 80 members of the Muritula USAD Farmers’ Association obtained 11 chicken each, complete with feeds and vitamins, the DA 13 regional information officer said.

The native chickens are intended to be raised at home, which proves to be advantageous given that chickens raised in backyards require less investment and low feeds, but with a rapid return on investment.

This is echoed by Santos Almonicar Escalisas, association president, who expressed gratitude for the provision that he deemed as a side project for his members.

“We are grateful to DA – SAAD Caraga for these native chickens. Aside from tending to our abaca plantation and our weekly banana exports, we now have an additional, manageable side project. We are more than excited because we get to raise the chickens on our own, in our very own backyards,” Escalisas said.

Muritula USAD Farmers’ Association, which has grown from 60 members in 2019 to 80 in 2020, is also a recipient of the SAAD-funded abaca production project in 2019, with inputs such as abaca plantlets, fertilizers, pesticides, carabaos, and machinery and equipment worth to P 2.46 million.

DA 13 Regional Executive Director (RED) Abel James I. Monteagudo assured that the agency is one with its beneficiaries in alleviating poverty and in attaining food security in the region.

“DA-Caraga, through the SAAD Program, lives on with its mission to help address poverty in Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur,” he said.

“We recognize the needs of our partners and in turn, commit to provide what they need to generate income and also produce food for the region. With the pandemic becoming more threatening, our farmers need our support more than ever,” RED Monteagudo added.

The native chicken production is a component of the P9.4 million worth of interventions SAAD has allotted this year to continue establishing income-generating projects to 34 farmers’ associations in Agusan del Sur (10) and Surigao del Sur (24), it said.

This includes other agricultural inputs, animals, and relevant Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials to be distributed before the year ends, it also said.