GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 12 Dec) – The Department of Agriculture (DA) will pour in additional funds starting next year for the expansion of a flagship diversified upland farming development project in Sarangani province.
Sarangani Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon said Wednesday the move was part of the DA central office’s commitment to sustain and expand the coverage of the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) program.
Since 2016, the province already received around P150 million in grants from the national government for the program’s implementation in selected poor upland barangays in the province.
Solon said Dr. Myer Mula, SAAD national program director, disclosed in a recent meeting here that Agriculture Secretary William Dar was impressed with the rollout of the program in the province in the last three years.
“That’s why DA is putting in additional funds to sustain the program even beyond the end of President [Rodrigo] Duterte’s term in 2022,” the governor said in a statement.
Since 2016, at total of 65 upland barangays within the province’s seven municipalities have already benefited from the project, which focuses on vegetable, upland rice and white corn production.
Under the project, local farmers received farm inputs like seeds and fertilizers as well as technical and livelihood assistance, comprising farm animals like ducks, chickens and goats.
Agnes Du, SAAD provincial coordinator, said 2,741 hectares of farm lands were already planted with drought-resistant upland rice and 1,289 hectares with open-pollinated variety white corn through the program.
She said these farms harvested a combined 247 metric tons (MT) of upland rice in 2018 and increased to 614 MT as of November this year.
For white corn, she said overall production reached 380 MT last year and increased to 411 MT this year.
The assorted vegetables produced through diversified farming was recorded at 17,629 kilos in 2018, she said.
With the fresh funding commitment from DA, Solon said more ordinary farmers, especially the indigenous peoples, and upland barangays in the province will benefit from the project.
“It will complement with our efforts to transform Sarangani into food and rice production basket,” he added. (MindaNews)