Maguindanao launches DA’s farm assistance program

Agriculture Assistant Secretary Lerey Panes and Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Magudadatu led Tuesday launching in Maguindanao of the Special Area for Agricultural Development Program. Unson

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is keeping a promise to help Maguindanao’s marginalized farmers improve their productivity to hasten the restoration of normalcy in conflict-torn areas, officials said Tuesday.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and Agriculture Assistant Secretary Lerey Panes jointly launched in Buluan town Tuesday the implementation in the province of the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) program of the Department of Agriculture.

The SAAD program is part of the Duterte administration’s effort to address poverty and underdevelopment in rural areas.

There is a word “saad” in the Visayan dialect which means promise. It can also contextually mean “equitable sharing” among ethnic Maranaws.

Mangudadatu said Duterte, who defeated rival candidates with an overwhelming vote-lead in Maguindanao during last year’s presidential polls, is keeping his pledge to pour in more than P150 million worth of assistance to farmers in the province via socio-economic interventions.

The launching on Tuesday of the SAAD program in Maguindanao was assisted by Milagros Casis, who is DA’s director for Region 12, and senior agriculture officials from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

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The event was capped off with the symbolic turnover of farming inputs and equipment to farmer beneficiaries from different Maguindanao towns.

“We are thankful to President Duterte and Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol for this good tiding,” Mangudadatu said.

Besides Maguindanao, the SAAD program also covers nine other provinces, Apayao, Western Samar, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, North Cotabato, Negros Oriental, Zamboanga del Norte, Lanao del Sur and Sarangani.

The SAAD program has various components, which include technical support and educational interventions which farmers need to boost their production.

Mangudadatu said the program, which will also teach farmers crop diversification for bigger income, will also promote environmental protection.

Reference from Unson (