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DILP Monitoring & Evaluation: Sustaining Livelihood through Seaweeds Production at Olutanga, Sibugay
Sun, Jul 01, 2012 (Source: DOLE Zambo. Sibugay)
The muddy, slippery road condition and the prevailing security issues in Olutanga have not prevented DOLE-Sibugay Team to slow down its services and assistance for the rural workers in the island. Packed with strong conviction, the team headed their way to the island last June 4-8, 2012 to conduct a week-long field monitoring and evaluation.

The seaweeds farming project turned out to be a viable undertaking for farmers in the coastal areas. Because the coastal waters of Olutanga Island is found to be suitable for planting seaweeds, the farmers can plant their crops all year long thus the demand for the services of planters remained high. Last year, through DOLE’s initiatives, two (2) associations received Livelihood Fund Assistance for Seaweeds Production with a total amount of Php 583,000.00.

Talusan Livelihood Developers Association The 1,500 hectares coastal area provides a huge opportunity for the livelihood beneficiaries in Talusan to increase their production considering the vast area for seaweeds farming. However, due to limited funds they cannot fully maximize existing resources. Last April13, 2012 the Talusan Livelihood Developers Association (TLDA) received a livelihood grant in the amount of Php265,000 for the seaweeds production which benefited 25 farmers.

Based on the assessment made during a meeting with the members of the association, 25 target beneficiaries received the intended materials and equipment for the seaweeds production. However, 14 of the beneficiaries suffered big losses during harvest as their productswere affected with diseases. According to the beneficiaries, around 60% of the seedlings procured by the LGU were found to be afflicted with a water-borne disease commonly known as “ice-ice”. To recover from the losses, the good seedlings saved from their affected farms were replanted and the sales of every harvest were used for capitalization to the next planting cycle.

Another major setback was during the second cycle harvest when majority of the harvestable crops were attacked by thieves. These series of setbacks have greatly affected the morale of the group but through the determination of the officers the groups endured and continuedreplanting. The association had already saved an amount of 7,000.00 pesos deposited in the bank which is intended to finance new farming areas for new members. The farmers are hopeful that the ensuing months can help them recover from their losses.

Meanwhile, the monitoring team suggested to the group to review their policies, system and procedure and submit monthly progress/incidence reports to the PESO Manager. A possible team-building training and records keeping will be conducted in July to foster strong camaraderie, commitment, order and transparency among members of the association. The DOLE has also coordinated with the Special Forces Team of the Philippine Army assigned in Talusan wherein the commanding officer assured his support to the farmers on concerns relating to theft. His only request is for the farmers to coordinate with them so that their boats and the members can be identified during patrols.

Aksyon Galas Kasanyangan Association Another group from the Island who benefitted from livelihood funding support of DOLE for seaweed farmers is the Aksyon Galas Kasanyangan Association (AGKA). This association is composed of Muslim seaweed farmers located at one of the far-flung barangays of the Municipality of Olutanga which is Barangay Galas. Due to security concerns brought about by one related incident which involved the abduction of two Chinese Nationals last June 04, 2012, the DOLE monitoring team found difficulty in reaching the area for assessment and inspection. However, the Punong Barangay of Galas was called to meet up with the team.

Based on the statements of the Punong Barangay, the 30 beneficiaries of the project were able to maintain the project. Every month, each beneficiary will set aside an amount of Php 150 as savings of the project. The only major problem involved was the damages of the crops brought by toxins/chemical wastes from nearby fishponds which destroy and lessen productivity of the carrageenan crop. The LGU Olutanga had informed on the matter and an ordinance is expected to come out soon, banning this type of chemicals to be used in fishponds.

Be that as it may, the Punong Barangay of Galas was advised to submit a status report to the PESO Manager. It is expected that a second round of evaluation and inspection in Galas will be conducted if security issues will be stabilized.

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