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Empowering Community: The female role model association in Negros Oriental

Negros Oriental used to be one of the poorest provinces in the Philippines according to the 2015 report from the Philippine Statistics Authority with poverty incidence rate of 38.7%. After 3 years, it went down to 26%, which according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)-7 Regional Director Efren Carreon in an article published on September 27, 2019 by the Philippine Information Agency shows many households have gotten out of poverty, which means something good is happening.

Two SLPA members are conducting immunization of their piglets.

This positive change somehow shows that the programs and projects initiated by different concerned government and non-government agencies have contributed in the reduction of poverty incidence in the province. One of which, is the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The DSWD through its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) facilitated the creation of different SLP associations and has provided a seed capital fund to start their proposed livelihood projects. One of the associations organized is the BADC Candugay Pantawid Sustainable Livelihood Project Association in Barangay Casalaan, Siaton Negros Oriental.

With 57 women members, the association was granted a maximum amount of Php 456,000.00 and has started the operation of its Hog Raising Production on July 22, 2016. Before the implementation, all the members went through different trainings facilitated by partner stakeholders, such as the Ayungon Trading, PILMICO, BMEG, Unifeeds, Municipal Agriculture Office, and the Community Driven Enterprise Development (CDED).

Aside from their main livelihood activity, the association integrates vegetable farming using the Natural Farming System in their farm. From year 2016 to the 2nd quarter of 2019, the SLPA has gained an average quarterly income ranging from Php 50,000.00 to Php 100,000.00. Each member received Php 1,200.00 up to Php 1,800.00 depending on the number of days in which a member is present during the operation cycle of their enterprise including in the vegetable production.

Due to the successful project operation, the members have decided to expand and replicate their vegetable farming in Candugay High School. The members have accepted the “Gulay Mo, Buhay Ko” project of the school in March 2018.

On July 22, 2019, the team conducted the ground breaking ceremony of the project after series of consultation meetings with DSWD’s Municipal Action Team (MAT) members, SLPA members, partner stakeholders, and the parent-teacher-students in Candugay High School. With the assistance from the Department of Agriculture who provided various vegetable seeds (ampalaya, tomato, string beans, bell pepper and okra), the team has inspired the people in Barangay Casalaan and nearby barangays to engage in farming more.

“Nagpasalamat mi kay nagamit ang bakante nga lote diri sa eskuylahan ug sa laing bahin na edukar pod ang mga estudyante kabahin sa benepisyo sa organic backyard gardening diin makakaon sila og presko ug sustansyado nga kan-onon (We are thankful because our vacant lot here in school is utilized and at the same time, the students already knew the benefits of organic backyard gardening wherein they can already eat fresh and nutritious food),” says Mrs. Prima Ebida, principal of Candugay High School.

The success of the project has inspired the members to join the Municipal Search for Garbo sa Kababayen-an and was fortunately declared winner. As award, they received Php 5,000.00 cash with trophy and was automatically included in the 2019 Provincial Search for Garbo sa Kababayen-an in Negros Oriental held last December 9, 2019 at the Robinsons Place, Dumaguete City. The association made it to the 2nd place and brought home a cash award amounting to Php 20,000.00 and a trophy.

According to SLPA Treasurer Luz Kadusale, “Dako gyud ang among kalipay kay narecognize me dili lang sa among Lungsod kundi sa amo pod nga probinsya kay napasundayag namo ang abilidad sa kababayen-an dili lang sa among tagsa-tagsa ka pamilya kundi sa komunidad na usab (We are overjoyed to be recognized not only in our town, but also in the province because we were able to showcase the ability of women not only in our individual families, but also in the community).” Kudusale is also thankful for the cash prize because it serves as an additional source to further develop their business.

Currently, the association is actively involved in the communal vegetable gardening project located in Candugay High School, Casalaan, Siaton. The members have agreed to temporarily stop the operation of their micro-enterprise in October 2019 due to African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak, which caused pork prices to fall. When asked about their project plans, the members said they will continue their original micro-enterprise once the hog industry will stabilize. They are also planning to invest the cash prize in “Garbo sa Kababayen-an” to a community sari-sari store. ###

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