Tausug fisherfolk receive livelihood assistance

[Philippines] The government, through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, recently distributed fishing gear and seaweed-farm implements, such as payaos, fishing boats, motor engines, gillnets, and fish pots to 1,246 fishers in three Sulu municipalities.

In the coastal town of Maimbung—recorded as one of the poorest municipalities of Sulu, having faced challenges brought on by decades-long insurgencies and terrorism—333 fisherfolk received new fishing gear from the livelihood caravan of the Accelerated and Sustainable Anti-Poverty Program or ASAPP.

Among them was local fisher Umban U. Intul—a 60-year-old resident of Barangay Ipil, a coastal area with a relatively lush mangrove cover, and a Tausug—who received from the BFAR new fishing gear, gillnets, fish and crab pots, a motor engine, and additional floaters and twine, and a seaweeds stilt dryer. He currently has two hectares of seaweeds farm which can produce as much as 12,000kg of dried seaweeds—equivalent to total gross revenues of P300,000. Umban has been engaged in fishing and seaweeds growing for almost 40 years now, and is married with seven children.

In 2011, the government—through its Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cabinet Cluster (HDPRC)—designed the Accelerated and Sustainable Anti-Poverty Program or ASAPP, a master program that promotes inclusive growth and aids in eliminating poverty in the poorest provinces. BFAR Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Regional Director Janice D. Musali describes ASAPP as an inter-agency initiative which aims to alleviate poverty by creating sustainable employment and income-generating opportunities for the poor.

The idea is to bring government and private sector together and make readily available programs and services more accessible to target beneficiaries.

In August 2015, the BFAR—through its ARMM regional office and Sulu PFO—led the Sulu Cluster of ASAPP in bringing livelihood interventions and government services closer to the people. A series of livelihood caravans by various local and national government agencies were held in three municipalities namely Maimbung, Parang and Panglima Tahil.

DA Undersecretary for Fisheries and BFAR National Director Atty. Asis G. Perez, who was present in all three caravans, explained that the national government wants the people of Sulu to directly benefit from the country’s economic growth: “The government has to reach out to the people and work with them to achieve sustainable peace and development.”

Aside from distributed gear, Perez instructed Director Musali and Sulu Fishery Officer Maciano Damih to look into possible postharvest supports that could be given to the fisherfolk of Maimbung such as market linkage and provision of chest freezers to help maintain the good quality of the fishers’ catch.

This is consistent with the Bureau’s value-based production framework which advocates against unabated pressure on fishing grounds, promotes value-adding technologies to maximize market potential of every fish and fishery commodity, and fosters higher profits for the fisherfolk.

“When we already have enough catch, they next thing we should think about is where do we bring our produce. How do we bring our catch to the right market? How do we assign value to our catch? How are we going to maximize profits from our catch? We have to link the product to the market,” Perez explained in Filipino. “If we are not able to process our catch and sell it at the right price, the living conditions of our people will not improve.”

Perez vowed that livelihood interventions and technology trainings for the people of Sulu would keep coming in noting that the Aquino administration does not believe in the trickling down of benefits of economic growth.

Maimbung Sulu Mayor Samier A. Tan thanked the national government for all the support and services provided to his constituents. He praised the beauty of ASAPP program which is bringing government agencies to grassroots communities: “This is how beautiful our government is now. Support from the national government automatically comes to our people. The Municipality of Maimbung is ready to work with the national government and all our constituents are very grateful for all the support coming in.” (DA)


Photo: Sulu fisherman, Uban and his wife, through livelihood assistance, have put their seven children through school.

View original article at: Tausug fisherfolk receive livelihood assistance 

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