TACLOBAN CITY – Teams will be deployed by the Department of Agriculture (DA) regional office to three Samar provinces to assist farmers in the identification of priority farm commodities, heeding Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol’s directive to transform Samar Island into a “food basket.”
DA Regional Executive Director Wilson Cerbito said the department will embark on participatory governance through community-based consultation, striking a balance between farmers’ preferred crops and suitable commodity in specific areas.
Initially, the initiative will cover five poorest towns in each of the three provinces or a total of 15 areas.
“We want to make sure that after the project, there should be an impact. Success of the project will be measured by evaluating the poverty incidence,” Cerbito said.
The three provinces – Samar, Northern Samar, and Eastern Samar – were tagged as priority areas in the implementation of Special Area for Agriculture Development (SAAD), the strategy of the Piñol in attaining agricultural development and poverty alleviation.
Through this program, the national government aims to bring down poverty incidence in Samar provinces to only 25 percent.
Recently, DA organized a technical working group with local government units for a specific identification of the beneficiaries and determines the exact location, preferably create a database.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has identified Samar provinces as among the 10 areas with the highest poverty incidence in the country.
Eastern Samar had 55.4 percent while both Samar and Northern Samar posted 43.5 percent poverty incidence.
“Development will not only focus on crops, but fisheries as well. This can be done through collaboration with other agencies such as Department of Social Welfare and Development because the targets are conditional cash transfer beneficiaries,” Cerbito added.
The DA will also tie up with the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, DA-attached agencies and bureaus, and local government units in the implementation of SAAD.
During his visit to the region last month, Piñol committed to organize project management teams in the three provinces, hire additional workers to assist designated agricultural extension workers, and prioritize projects with a turnaround of six months to one year to “achieve much awaited changes.”
DA regional information Francisco Rosaroso said SAAD program has been proven successful in North Cotabato, where Piñol served as its governor for nine years.
“SAAD, a comprehensive program focusing on the country’s ten priority provinces, will assess the strengths and weaknesses of an area and its potentials in food production,” Rosaroso explained.