SORSOGON PROVINCE – Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) Philippines Country Director Fahri Burak Aydogdu visited the beneficiaries of the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) in Sorsogon province on February 21-22, 2022. This is to evaluate SAAD sites for possible funding support or direct intervention from the Turkish agency, following SAAD Director Myer G. Mula’s meeting with the TIKA director.

In Donsol, Sorsogon, Director Aydogdu met with one of the prospective beneficiaries –  the Tres Marias Drive Association (TMD) composed of 28 vegetable growers. The TMD has a total of 4.6 hectare land planted to vegetables which they sell either fresh or processed. Among the processed products of the TMD are turmeric or “salabat”, polvoron, pickled vegetable and sweetened vegetable candies (molido).

Director Aydogdu was joined by Dr. Mary Grace DP. Rodriguez, SAAD Bicol Action Officer. Dr. Rodriguez said that the SAAD Bicol RPMO has submittied to Director Mula proposals for the construction of a Community-based Vegetable Processing Facility and the procurement of hauling trucks to be stationed at the RDPTC in Sorsogon. The said  projects will benefit 31 organized groups in Sorsogon whose members ranged from 30 to 35 vegetable growers.

In Pilar, Sorsogon, the Director visited the Agta Tabangnon communities, prospective beneficiaries of the proposed fishpen and fish pond projects submitted by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to SAAD.

Director Aydogdu said that TIKA Philippines has collaborated with SAAD in the past and has already provided interventions to selected beneficiaries of SAAD program in other regions of the Philippines in 2019 and 2020 but has  temporarily stopped during the pandemic due to travel restrictions. 

“Through SAAD we can easily reach people and we are glad to be able to help them,” Dir. Aydogdu added. He was particularly impressed with the significant number of beneficiaries who will benefit from the projects if realized.

Director Aydogdu has seen the vegetable production areas of the SAAD beneficiaries which are very far from the market centers. Having a large winged truck for the main roads, as well as a smaller hauling truck for the inner or far flung areas could be a great boost to their enterprises.

The SAAD implementers in Sorsogon also lament the lack of hauling trucks that they can use in the delivery of inputs to the beneficiaries particularly in the very remote areas. At present, they are borrowing trucks from the Local Government Units and oftentimes have to wait for days for the trucks to be available.

Dr. Rodriguez thanked Director Aydogdu for visiting Bicol to personally evaluate the SAAD sites.  “We are really thankful to the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency for giving time to study and consider our proposal,” Dr. Rodriguez added. (Lovella P. Guarin – DA RAFIS 5)