BILIRAN (PIA)– Two farmers’ associations in the province of Biliran that were selected as beneficiaries of the Special Area of Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program Phase 2, which is being implemented by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), are now reaping the benefits of the assistance given them by the government.

The program is a poverty reduction initiative that aims to enhance the living conditions of vulnerable fisherfolks and their communities. The program provides sustainable livelihood opportunities and interventions to complement the DA banner programs.

It also provides support to fishery enterprises at the community level. It also aims to improve food security and stimulate economic development in specific regions of the country.

In July last year, the Caibiran Farmers Irrigators Association (CFIA), led by Felix Ramirez Jr., received 2,000 tilapia fingerlings, 33 bags of aqua feeds, and capacity-building activities. The total value of this intervention was P133,000.

The CFIA is a 15-member farmers’ association focusing on rice, coconut, and banana farming. However, the group has shifted to expand food production endeavors in agri-fisheries through the tilapia in pond project.

They utilized the knowledge they gained from the training and technical support they received from the local government and harvested 355 kilos of tilapia from their two-compartment fishpond, earning them P45,000.

“Nagpapasalamat ako han BFAR nga nagkaada hin programa hini nga SAAD. Dako an bulig hini ha amon grupo,” Rene Sinangote, CFIA auditor and member, expressed hope that the program will continue to help improve their daily lives.

(Translation: I am grateful to BFAR for having the SAAD program. This is a big help to our group.)

Ramirez emphasized that the program provides them with food and a viable income.
The association plans to expand its agribusiness in producing catfish and freshwater prawns to maximize its 185-hectare farmland.

The Baso Fisherfolk Association (BFA) in Barangay Baso, Cabucgayan, Biliran, is another beneficiary of SAAD in the province. This organization was primarily composed of bottom-set and hook-and-line anglers who have found a promising alternative livelihood in aquaculture. The program’s success has transformed their lives and serves as a testament to its effectiveness.

The organization has 17 fishermen accustomed to catching fish in the adjacent waters of the province amid big waves and strong currents. They now benefit from the SAAD Phase 2 Bangus Production, worth P1.3 million in livelihood assistance.

The provision consists of 6,000 bangus fingerlings, one unit of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) cage with mooring, 270 bags of aquafeeds, and bangus production training and capability-building activities.

The association had a successful initial harvest and produced a large volume of bangus. From December 19, 2023 to January 3, 2024, they harvested 2.3 metric tons of bangus, amounting to P365,325. They actively sought out potential buyers in their communities to ensure a smooth marketing process and maximize their profits.

“Kapoy ang first experience (the first experience is tiring),” Jany Tequillo, the president of the BFA, expressed an unforgettable joy and hoped the project would bloom into something bigger.

BFA intends to use the revenue from their partial harvests for their second crop. They plan to start the second cropping in the first semester of 2024. The group aims to become self-sufficient aquapreneurs by utilizing their earnings and expanding their bangus cages. This expansion is expected to contribute to the thriving aquaculture industry in the province.
They also committed to collaborating and cooperating with the BFAR through the provincial fishery office of the province for the success and prosperity of the SAAD programs and objectives.

The program has successfully implemented two projects in Caibiran and Cabucgayan in Biliran province. It will extend its reach to fisherfolk in the towns of Kawayan and Almeria.
The primary aim is to promote inland tilapia production to contribute to the fish sufficiency of the mentioned fifth-class towns in the province.
(AAC/RSV/PIA Biliran with reports from Shanly Salahid/BFAR-8 SAAD RPMSO)