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Thursday, January 4, 2024

DA extends P8.6M aid to tribal farmers in Agusan Sur

By Jennifer Gaitano

Indigenous farmers who belong to the Sibagat Manobo Dairy Producers Development Association, Incorporated (SMDP) recently received P8.6 million worth of assistance under the Dairy Cattle and Milk Production Project of the Department of Agriculture (DA) regional office in Caraga.

 

The project is part of the agriculture department’s Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran ng Kababayang Katutubo (4K) Program which aims to support the development of tribal communities in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur.

 

SMDP received 20 heads of dairy cattle, a hauling vehicle, a farm tractor, a forage storage facility (Bunker Silo), two units of milking machine, a milk cooling tank, 10 units of milk containers, one unit of forage chopper, a generator set, and a water system facility.

 

SMDP president Jimson Sumanda said that they were able to earn P20,000 in their first attempt at producing and processing dairy products.

The Dairy Cattle and Milk Production Project in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur from the Department of Agriculture (DA) Caraga increases the IP farmers’ productivity and income. Photo courtesy of DA-Caraga

"We are really blessed and thankful to the DA because we are now starting to leave behind the old way of living and earning money like looking for something around in the forest to sell out. This time, we are making money out of this new way and feasible livelihood. We vow to double our efforts and make this thrive around," he said. 

 

"Through DA's assistance, we hope that more indigenous peoples (IP)-farmers not only here in our municipality but also in other provinces will benefit from the same project and be able to earn a high income from their produce," added Sumanda.

 

With this project, the municipal local government unit (MLGU) of Sibagat is hoping to end malnutrition, one of the standing challenges in the said municipality, since more children are now drinking milk from SMDP.

 

Sibagat Mayor Thelma Lamanilao and Vice Mayor Maria Liza Evangelista have been supportive of the various engagements of the IPs with the different government agencies, including DA-Caraga. 

 

“The local government of Sibagat supports any endeavor that promotes the general welfare of the local farmers, especially the IPs here in the municipality,” remarked Lamanilao.

 

The economy of Sibagat is heavily dependent on subsistence agriculture. Its major agricultural products are coconut, corn, coffee, cacao, fruits, vegetables, and root crops.

 

Meanwhile, DA-Caraga Regional Executive Director, Engr. Ricardo Oñate Jr., congratulated the beneficiaries and expressed his hope to maximize the project, thereby uplifting their living conditions.

 

"I believe that in every problem there is a corresponding solution. We, in the government, just tried our very best to make this project possible because this is what you asked for as one of the ways to lessen your burdens—livelihood. With that, congratulations, and may you maintain this project and make it sustainable. We are just at your back," he said. 

 

4K is a locally funded program that caters to indigenous people—farmers and fishermen—within their ancestral domains in the Philippines. The program has four components, namely, social preparation, production and livelihood support, marketing, and enterprise development, that focus on supporting IPs, while program management ensures the program is operating effectively. (JPG, PIA-Caraga, with a report from DA-Caraga)