Best SAAD implementor Riza Caliba is shown here with her sari-sari store in Hernani town, Eastern Samar, the fruit of her hard work and diligence. (PIA E. Samar)

The life of a housewife named Rizza C. Caliba of Brgy. Nagaja, Hernani, E. Samar changed, with the entry of the program of the government in her town through the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Rizza is an ordinary housewife, an elementary school graduate, whose husband, a high school graduate is a farmer.

They have three children, all girls. The eldest is Precious, Grade 7; Gen May, Grade 6; and Zhanelle,  Grade 5.

Riza and Ramil Caliba, Best SAAD implementer pose with their kids, all girls. The eldest is Precious, Grade 7; Gen May, Grade 6; and Zhanelle,  Grade 5 in their house built by hard work, diligence and SAAD fruits. (Photo by Riza Caliba)

Before the entry of SAAD in her barangay, Rizza sells homemade food in the school, sells vegetables in their barangay, and offers manicure services to help her husband.

“During those times, we were happy if we can eat two times a day,” Rizza said.

When Typhoon Yolanda came, their house was devastated.

“I was so sad because we did not receive any financial aid from the government, only from NGOs wherein we were given a bunkhouse as a shelter for my family.”

“We waited for the promised help for some time, doing our best to grow our own food while my husband did odd jobs for some neighbors,” she recalls.

In March 2018, fate seemed to have smiled at the Caliba family.

SAAD Program is here

“There was a meeting in our barangay and I was invited to attend, with the staff of SAAD.”

“Through their assessment, validation, and profiling and with answered prayers, I was identified as one beneficiary of SAAD.”

“We were trained twice for swine production, and after our training, we were given each a sow and eight sacks of feeds,” Rizza added.

“The counterpart of the beneficiary at that time to avail the swine production is only a pigpen since I did not have money at that time, I borrowed the money from a neighbor,” she added.

Best SAAD implementor Riza Caliba shows her brood of piglets from her swine production in Hernani town, E. Samar. (Photo by Riza Caliba)

On December 2018, her sow produced 13 piglets for the first time, she had a difficult time feeding the litters, she and husband had to manually manage them to take turns in feeding on their mom.

“This is now the fifth time that this sow is producing piglets, any day from now,” she said, during the interview in May.

Her sow has already produced 44 piglets from its 2nd, 3rd and 4th deliveries.

Ramil Caliba himself assists the piglets while feeding. (Photo by Riza caliba)

When this sow gives birth, we attend to it and treat the piglets like our own children, they have to be assisted so that all 18 litters can feed.”

A different life for the family

As time passed, they sold the weaned piglets at P3,000 each and set aside another six for fattening and one as sow in order to have more production.

Through this swine production, they gradually built their house and bought appliances.

The couple has also a Sari-Sari Store which grew from a swine feeds store for a start, until their finances held them through a bigger store with feeds on the side. Caliba disclosed that money can be easily spent, if not managed properly.

“We started with very little, so I know that I have to manage the resources properly, the seminars that the agriculture department gave was a big help to my simple bookkeeping,” she shared.

With her store selling feeds, she earns more. She also need not patronize other stores for the feeds.

Riza Caliba is shown with her motorcycle, fruit of her swine production, she uses the motorcycle to replenish goods for her sari-sari store. (Photo by Riza Caliba)

“Every time there is an income from my swine production, I see to it that the money benefits my family. As of now, I have paid my neighbor, I have a motorcycle for my family, this is a big help, especially when we go to Gen. Mac-Arthur to replenish supplies for the Sari-Sari store,” she said.

“Last year, I sold my old sow for P22,000 and six fattened pigs at P6,000 each, and this week, my new sow will give birth again and I have six weaned piglets ready for sale at P3,500 each. With the income, I plan to construct more pigpens,” she added.

Because of her Outstanding Performance, she was given an award as the top individual performer of the SAAD implementation and she won some P5,000 cash on October 28, 2019.

“With the SAAD Program of DA, I am very thankful for the opportunity given to me and my life changed. You only have to be hardworking and diligent to reach your dreams,” Caliba quipped.

The SAAD is a project intended to help alleviate poverty among marginalized sectors of agriculture and fishery, coined after the Visayan word “saad” which means promise.

SAAD is a breakthrough project of DA as part of the thrust of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to increase food production and reduce poverty in the Philippines. (PIA)