SORSOGON CITY -- Colorful buntings and festive music signal that it is no ordinary day in Sitio Purakay, Brgy. Pamurayan, Sorsogon City on May 15, 2017. Amid scorching summer heat, residents flock the shores of Sorsogon Bay and look over the horizon. After three hours of breathless waiting, everyone was filled with cheers as 20 red and blue non-motorized fiberglass boats parade the sea.

Among the crowd, two men moved closer to the seashore, clapping their hands in amazement—Roberto Salgado, president of the Samahang Mangingisda ng Tomalaytay (SMT) and Mariano Saldy Jesoro, president of the Samahang Mangingisda ng Gimaloto (SAMAGI). Salgado and Jesoro are the recipients of the fiberglass boats from the Philippine Rural Development Project’s (PRDP) microenterprise subprojects for calamity-stricken areas in Bicol.

 

During the Turn-Over Ceremony of Fiberglass Non-motorized Boats, PRDP Project Support Office South Luzon Director Shandy Hubilla announced that the 20 non-motorized fiberglass boats are initial deliveries out of the 50 non-motorized fiberglass boats that the Project will provide to fisherfolk in Sorsogon. SMT and SAMAGI are two of the five proponent groups venturing in seaweed production that will receive 10 non-motorized fiberglass boats each.

“Pagkatapos ng Typhoon Nona medyo naghirap at bumaba ang income ng mga seaweed farmers at ng mga mangingisda ng aming barangay. Itong project na ito ay talaga namang makakatulong na maiangat ang kabuhayan ng mga seaweed farmers ng Tomalaytay. Sa pamamagitan nito maliban sa dati naming mga bangka, meron na kaming additional na sampu na magagamit namin para sa pagpapalawak ng aming mga taniman. Ang mga bangkang ito ay mas matibay kumpara sa aming mga ginagamit at magiging kaaagapay ng bawat farmer sa paggabay sa kanilang hanap-buhay sa pang-araw-araw na pangangailangan (After Typhoon Nona seaweed farmers and fisherfolk experienced reduced income. This project will certainly help uplift the quality of lives of seaweed farmers in Tomalaytay. Through this, we have additional 10 boats that we can use in expanding our seaweed farm. These boats are more durable compared to the boats that we currently use and will serve as our livelihood partner),” said Roberto A. Salgado, president of the Samahang Mangingisda ng Tomalaytay (SMT) in Castilla, Sorsogon.

Meanwhile, Mariano Saldy L. Jesoro, president of the Samahang Mangingisda ng Gimaloto (SAMAGI) recalled how fisherfolk and seaweed farmer-members of his cooperative struggled to plant, maintain and harvest their seaweeds after Typhoon Nona wrecked their boats.

“Naghihirap yung mga mangingisda. Nung wala pa ang PRDP, halos naglalakad lang sila. Pag high tide hindi makapaglinis ng maayos sa gulamanan dahil malalim ang tubig. Yung ibang mga miyembro umuupa sila nang mahal halimbawa P25 ang bangka kada isang araw (Fisherfolk were impoverished. Prior to PRDP’s intervention, they just walk going to their seaweed area. During high tide, they are constrained from maintaining their seaweed area. Some of our members rent a boat though it is quite expensive at P25 per boat per day),” he said.

With the 10 non-motorized fiberglass boats, Jesoro saw a glimmer of hope for the fisherfolk members of SAMAGI. 
“Sa ngayon mas lalong mapapaganda namin ang tubo ng seaweeds dahil meron na kaming mga bangka na maaari naming gamitin anumang oras (Now, we can boost the quality of seaweed growth because of these boats that are available anytime),” Jesoro added.

About 74 members of SAMAGI and 71 members of SMT will benefit from the non-motorized boats which they can use in carrying planting materials as well as in the daily maintenance and monitoring of their seaweed culture. PRDP will also provide one motorized fiberglass boat to each proponent group for the delivery of raw dried seaweeds to target markets.

SAMAGI projects an increase of P4,821.22 average income in four cropping of seaweeds from its previous average on-farm and off-farm income prior to Typhoon Nona worth P1,600. On the other hand, SMT is eyeing an increase of P4,842.49 or equivalent to 223 percent raise from their previous monthly income amounting to P1,500.

Governor Robert Lee Rodrigueza of Sorsogon expressed his gratitude to the Department of Agriculture and the PRDP for the support extended to the province. He reiterated the Sorsogon government’s thrust to develop the agri-fishery sector as he observed that many farmers and fisherfolk in the province belong to the poor and vulnerable sector. He also discussed Sorsogon’s potentials in pili, abaca and silkworm production and called for unity in promoting sustainable development and environment conservation among the stakeholders.

Sorsogon was hardly hit by Typhoon Nona in December 2015 which devastated about P2 million-worth of vegetables and root crops and damaged houses and boats in communities located near the coastal zones. PRDP has approved 10 microenterprise subprojects with a total amount of P10.74 million for calamity stricken areas in the province to help affected communities recoup from their losses and eventually, increase their income.
PRDP is a six-year World Bank-assisted project designed to establish a modern, inclusive, value chain-oriented and climate-resilient agri-fishery sector in the countryside. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA-PRDP RPCO V InfoACE Unit)