by Myleen S. Subang

The Department of Agriculture (DA) as one of the participating agencies in Bottom-up Budgeting (BuB) program of the government aims to empower people in the community by providing assistance to farmers and fishers in the countryside in order to increase their productivity.

The DA-BuB projects which jumpstarted in the year 2013 opened an avenue for the locals to identify their priority projects which are responsive to their needs, thus reducing poverty in the grassroots level.

“What is important about BuB is we are trying to capacitate the capability of LGUs. Considering that bottoms-up budgeting and planning is very important, the people through the CSOs are the ones who identify their priority projects.” explained former DA-regional executive director Larry Nacionales.

Seeking to raise the living standards of Guimarasnons, the island province of Guimaras is one of the beneficiaries of various BuB projects of the department.

The island province which is blessed with rich agricultural soils, mango production and fishing are the main source of livelihood of the locals. Farmers also earn a living by raising cattle, chicken and swine, aside from palay and coconut production.

However, they are constrained and could not maximize their productivity due to lack of road networks which significantly affect the livelihood and food security and the rural economy.

In developing communities, road infrastructure plays a crucial role in the lives of the people. It increases transport services and accessibility particularly in transporting farmer’s produce.

This is why the DA reached out to the locals by establishing road networks under bottom-up budget that gave ease among the residents in the far-flung and inaccessible areas of the province. The farm to market (FMR) gained high impact in these communities.

Fausto Nava, a farmer residing in sitio Bungan-bungan proved that the construction of FMR in their sitio has made easier for him to bring his farm products to the market. Fausto thanked the DA for benefiting the project because it helped him and his fellow farmers in the sitio. Among the major products transported by the farmers in the sitio are corn, mango, coconut and charcoal.

In 2014, DA established 3M worth of FMR projects in Nueva Valencia. One is a 200-meter network road situated in sitio Bungan-bungan, Brgy. Concordia and another 400-meter FMR was also built in sitio Tamocol in barangay Igang.

The residents of the sitios used to have these problem until the concrete roads were constructed which they now enjoyed in transporting their goods.

Nueva Valencia mayor Emmanuel Galila shared that DA-BuB project significantly improved the standard of living of the people considering the areas constructed with FMRs covered the 160-hectare area planted with century old mangoes. The roads has provided convenience among the farmers in marketing their products.

“Nueva Valenciahanons are so much grateful that they have availed this project because it led to boosting commerce and good production of the town,” conveyed Galila.

Other recipients of the FMR projects were Brgy. Dasal in Sibunag with 1.9 km. road connecting sitios Dingle and Sabang which according to Mayor Luben Vilches has helped out in the livelihood of vegetable growers in the area.

Relying on the expertise of Guimarasnons in raising animals, DA also granted livelihood projects to several farmer-associations (FA) in the municipalities of Jordan and San Lorenzo under this program.

One is the swine dispersal program which benefited four farmer associations (FAs) of the two municipalities. Among the four, the Parreño Estate Bugnay Agri-Fishery Beneficiary Association (PEBABEA) is one of the recipient-association benefiting 11 of its member from the swine dispersal project. Each beneficiary was given two-heads piglet to set off their hog fattening and breeding business. In addition, 13 association members who are into poultry raising also received hens and roosters to expand their poultry project.

Acquiring a capital remains as one of the difficulties among farmers to venture into production, “but through DA’s livelihood project, it paves the way to improve the lives of our members,” shared Elleo Gonzaga, PEBABEA Vice-Chairperson.

Currently, PEBABEA applies a roll-over approach to sustain the project. The association sells the offsprings produced by their current stocks and made use of the proceeds to buy additional stocks such as goats and chicken to expand their project to other association members.

The DA, championing to reduce poverty and increasing food production in the rural areas, farm mechanization embraces a big part in a speedy performance of farming operations. Without farm machineries, farmers experience delays in their farming activities resulting to minimal production and meager income.

Under the DA-BuB project, farmers availed farm machineries and equipment that made their working conditions more comfortable and efficient.

The municipality of San Lorenzo which is the farming capital of the island province, received 12 units hand tractors with trailer and other farming implements to 12 associations of the town.

“Our barangay has availed machineries from DA that helped the farmers improve their farming at the same time lowered the cost of production, resulting to their good income” said Punong Barangay Reynaldo Galon of Brgy. Sebario.

The Guimarasnons being reliant to the blessings of its fertile land are optimistic that more projects will be given to them or somehow the projects they have availed will be sustained. Through this bottom-up budgeting program of the Department of Agriculture (DA), they were able to articulate their needs for government’s interventions.

Right now, the DA continues to conduct periodic assessment as a means of monitoring the progress of the projects and gathering feedbacks through the help of the recipient LGUs and Civil Society Organizations (CSO) of the provinces. The agency also undertakes consultations in order to determine the primary needs of the people in the rural communities.

With this, the Guimarasnons gesture a toast to BuB for bringing improvement in the standard of living of their people.