MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte, July 24 (PIA) -- The news came like a bombshell. In the second half of the year 2013, the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers was scrapped. For good.
And for neophyte Congressman Damian Mercado, the new scenario means buying more time so the province-wide livelihood program he has started to roll can have more speed.
The setback, it turned out, was temporary. Just as soon as its implications settled, a new non-government organization in the province, the Southern Leyte Socio-Economic Development (SOLSED) started the legwork for the massive swine-raising project to start in spite of the PDAF abolition.
"Let me remind you that funds used in this venture are from private sources, not from the government," Cong. Mian, as Cong. Damian Mercado is fondly called, told the pioneer twenty-two family beneficiaries of the piggery project in Hinundayan town in December, 2013, the occasion also serving as the launching pad of the SOLSED undertaking.
The memorandum of agreement with SOLSED partners stipulated the duties and responsibilities of each side, with SOLSED providing piglets and inputs, the partners for taking care of the pigs until these are due to be sold.
SOLSED will be the one to buy the grown pigs at a much higher price that what was prevailing in the market and, minus all input costs, the difference goes to the partner beneficiaries as fruits of their labor.
In April, 2014, during a "first harvest" buying ceremony, everything went on as planned, with minor glitches. The hog farmers got their fair share. Eventually, the project had spread to other neighboring towns, until all the local governments in the province will be duly saturated, which is the overall objective.
But there is something more. Last month, June, SOLSED leveled up the swine-raising project by focusing on the production of rootcrops which will ultimately be produced as feeds to lower costs.
Cong. Mercado himself witnessed the initial planting of sweet camote and cassava cuttings in barangay Mahayahay, Bontoc, Southern Leyte. Camote and cassava are prime materials for feedstuffs, so the feedmill processing plant in the city can operate soon, Cong. Mian said.
Feed products sold from this feedmill plant will be prized lower than those available in commercial outlets, he added.
Anytime within this year, or next year, the Congressman's vision may start to be realized.
For now, it is no exaggeration to state that the success of the project can be attributed, among other factors, to non-dependence of PDAF.