The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR-7) has set aside over P79.1 million for livelihood projects and activities that were implemented under the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) program over the last three consecutive years that benefitted over 2,000 fisherfolks and 157 fishermen’s organizations in Central Visayas.

According to BFAR-7 regional information officer Alma Saavedra that the SAAD program aims to empower fisherfolks by providing them better opportunities in improving their livelihood and increasing their income, hoping to alleviate the poverty status among stakeholders in the fishery sector.

Saavedra said that from 2017 to 2019 the Bureau has allocated P79.1 million worth of fishery projects and livelihood interventions to 157 fisherfolk organizations and 2,372 individuals with more than P15 million were allotted in 2017; P27 million in 2018; and P37 million in 2019.

SAAD projects were firstly rolled out in Negros Oriental in 2017; Siquijor had its turn in 2018 and Bohol in 2019, implementing at 61 projects in these provinces that include aquaculture, capture fisheries and post-harvest technology projects, Saavedra went on.

Projects for aquaculture included pond culture; marine fish cages; freshwater fish farms; seaweed culture; and shell fish culture. Projects under the capture fisheries sector, beneficiaries received fishing gears, gill nets, fish corrals, fiberglass boats with marine engine, and among other fishing materials.

Post-harvest technologies were also distributed to the fisherfolks that included fish processing equipment; stainless table; value-adding materials; and ice-making machine.

SAAD follows a different and unique approach in aiding farmers and fisherfolks, Saavedra bared that SAAD program is implemented on a three-year period where the progress of the projects gradually advances to the succeeding years.

On the first year, the beneficiaries are provided individually with projects that help augment their livelihood while on the second year, fisherfolks are formed into organizations and are immersed on skills development training, and on the third year, they are capacitated to handle and manage their own individual fishery livelihood enterprises.