Facing Poverty, Bringing Prosperity (Snippets from the field – Northern Samar)

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Created on Monday, 17 January 2022 Published Date
Poverty incidence among population in the province of Northern Samar significantly improved in year 2015 and 2018. From 59.9 percent in 2015, it dipped to 34.0 percent, or a remarkable decline of 25.9% (PSA, 2020). Also, poverty incidence among families showed a notable decrease from 51.5 percent in 2015 to 27. 4 percent in 2018. In other words, one out of every four families had improved their economic status.
 
As cited in the NEDA 8 report on 2018 Full–Year Poverty Statistics of Eastern Visayas, poverty reduction could also be partly attributed to the implementation of labor–enhancing and income–enriching agricultural interventions through social preparation and livelihood interventions of SAAD Program, and could be credited to the sustained implementation, improved labor market conditions, and other institutional reforms.
 
The projects implemented in the province provided a significant impact in the lives of beneficiaries. Though not all projects were 100 percent successful, somehow there are beneficiaries who manifested notable change in their socioeconomic status throughout the SAAD implementation.
 
In partnership with the Provincial/Municipal Local Government Units and other stake–holders, the flow of project implementation became less bumpy. Stakeholders play a vital role by providing assistance in coordination and monitoring throughout the process.
 
SAAD provided livelihood to farmers focused on the production of crops and livestock. Projects implemented were on rice, corn, vegetable, poultry, goat, and swine production. They comprised a package of interventions, including farm inputs and social preparation activities to ensure their sustainability and empower farmers through specialized capacity enhancement trainings. The latter really helped the farmers sharpen their skills and improved their practices on different crops and livestock production.
 
Among the challenges personnel encountered during implementation were reforming the mindset of farmers and their commitment to the projects; accessibility of associations to markets due to lack of farm–to–market roads; and, most critical is, the communication aspect considering that most of the areas and beneficiaries covered still have neither signal nor communication network. Communication is very essential in coordination and monitoring because it enhances the effectivity and efficiency of services provided to recipients. These challenges were however addressed through proper management and planning of activities.
 
With the opportunities and means relatively met, a few of the associations began expanding from production to enterprising business. In addition to SAAD implemented projects, agri–vets were established. As the perceived lack of agricultural supply providers in the area was felt with the growing demand for feeds, the gap served as an opportunity for the associations to engage in mini–Agrivet enterprises. They serve as supplier of agricultural products, such as feeds and veterinary medicines in swine and poultry production, and act as income generating project of the association that not only benefit the association, but the community as well.
 
Generally, farmers’ project management in the province is a work–in–progress. It still needs further guidance and supervision. Although the pacing is a bit slow, with continuous support and cooperation these farmers will ultimately become capable in managing their affairs.
 
Before SAAD Program terminates in 2022, PPMSO–Northern Samar hopes to see individual and association beneficiaries as more capable of sustaining and improving their livelihood ventures. By continuously equipping them with required skills and knowledge and a prepared mindset for their transition to enterprise, this is not a remote possibility.
 
The program not only provided livelihood to farmer–beneficiaries, but also empowered them by providing technical knowledge. It radically changed their mindset that the word, saad, can really be fulfilled and not remain as mere promise. It changed their attitude and character towards the project into more responsive and extra diligent farmers by putting their newfound learning and knowledge into action.
 
The province has been a recipient of 29 livelihood projects from SAAD Program amounting to ₱174,354,379.00 from 2016 to 2021, which benefited 7,211 individuals and 209 group beneficiaries with a total group membership of 4,749. These beneficiaries participated in a 135 trainings provided, with inputs under the Rice, Corn, Vegetable, Swine, and Poultry Production Projects. Within the span of five years, PPMSO–Northern Samar has enabled two associations to set up established enterprises. These are: Libas Rural Improvement Club, based in Brgy. Libas, Lavezares, which was provided with a Swine Production Project in 2017 valued at PhP1,563,520.00; and Samahan ng Kababaihan sa Barangay (SAMAKABA), located in Brgy. Bonifacio, Lope de Vega, assisted with a Vegetable Production Project costing PhP391,650.27. Both associations organized a mini–agrivet in their respective localities that serves as their income generating project, which in turn help increase their capital and equity.
 
Report from
Francisco Lutao, Provincial Coordinator, PPMSO–Northern Samar
 
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