At the launch of a groundbreaking advocacy called "Sagip Saka", Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, Chairman of the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Food, and Social Justice and Rural Development, as well as Co-Chair of the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM), announced that at least P100 million in Priority Development Assistance Funding has been allocated to pilot various interventions for 24 agricultural communities all over the country.
Sagip Saka is an advocacy to achieve sustainable modern agriculture and food security by transforming agricultural communities to reach their full potential, improving farmers' and fishers' quality of life, and bridging gaps through public-private partnerships. It will do this through interventions in the following areas: (1) providing access to investments and credit, (2) opening access to market, (3) rolling out infrastructure, (4) strengthening research and development, (5) organizing farmer communities and cooperatives, (6) ensuring the quality and consistency of supply, (7) mitigating the risks brought about by climate change.
It is built upon five pillars of close and critical collaboration among the following sectors: (1) the Department of Agriculture and other government agencies, (2) the business sector, (3) farmers and fishers cooperatives, (4) civil society organizations and micro-finance institutions, (5) and local government units.
As Pangilinan explains, "Sagip Saka is meant to give agriculture and fisheries the primacy that it deserves by focusing on improving the quality of life of our farmers and fisherfolk and, in doing so, building sustainable farming communities nationwide as a means to achieve food security. Only through strong public-private partnerships can we achieve this."
The 24 beneficiaries that have been chosen for the first phase of Sagip Saka are the following: five Gawad Kalinga "Enchanted Farm" projects in Angat, Bulacan; Daet, Camarines Norte; Libmanan, Camarines Sur; Victorias City, Negros Occidental; Davao City, Davao del Sur; the Cagangohan Women Association (CWA) in Panabo, Davao del Norte; Lupon San Isidro Farmers Organization in San Isidro, Davao Oriental; Panaw Sumilao Multipurpose Cooperative in Sumilao, Bukidnon; Danlugan Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur; Office of the Provincial Agriculturist in Bohol Province; Samahang Mangingisda ng Brgy. Himo-Aw in Barangay Himo-Aw, Hilongos, Leyte; the rehabilitation of the Ifugao Rice Terraces for the benefit
of rice farmers in the Province of Ifugao; Pecuaria Development Cooperative, Inc. in Bula, Camarines Sur; Sugar Farmers of Negros Occidental; Mindoro Ecological and Sustainable Agriculture Federation (MESAFED) in Victoria, Socorro, Pola, and Nauan, Oriental Mindoro; Construction of a fish port in the Municipality of Tiwi, Albay; the Municipal
Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Council in Tiwi, Albay; Rice Terraces Farmers' Cooperative in Banaue, Ifugao; the Federation of Mango Stakeholders of Region I in Ilocos Norte; San Jose City Onion and Other Vegatable Farmers through the Local Government Unit of San Jose City in Nueva Ecija; Amungan Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Iba, Zambales; Cafe Amadeo Development Cooperative in Amadeo, Cavite; Kooperatiba sa Patuloy na Pag-Unlad ng Agrikultura in San Pablo City, Laguna; and coffee farmers through the Provincial Government of Cavite.
"Hindi po one-shot deal ang Sagip Saka, because our focus is to make the program sustainable so that we can help more agriculture and fisheries workers and communities in the coming years. Hindi po ito charity or dole-out because every Sagip Saka community has gone through a thorough screening process, and we have a criteria for selecting our beneficiaries," Pangilinan explained. "We have ensured that for every Sagip Saka community, there is the presence of strong and effective partnerships between and among at least two of our five pillars."
Aside from P100 million from Pangilinan's Prioritity Assistance Development Fund, the Department of Agriculture also allocated P20 million for the Ifugao Rice Terraces, the local government of Cavite allocated P5 million for Cavite pilot projects, and the Bicol local government allocated P4 million for Bicol pilot project. Pangilinan called on other local governments and government agencies to support this program "and support the farmers and the fisherfolk who are the lifeblood of our communities."
Pangilinan further explains that "the real heart of Sagip Saka is the drive to bring farmers and fisherfolk out of poverty and to give them the respect that their professions so deserve, with the belief that empowering our agricultural sector with financial stability and disposable income will also make a huge impact on our economy."
"When this 60% of our labor force can afford to live better lives, they will spend more for food, for housing, for the education of their children, for some basic necessities and even some luxuries. Imagine the impact of that on consumption and spending. Imagine how much more money will flow around and pave the way for the creation of more jobs? The possibilities are truly tremendous."
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