PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur— The two lawmakers of this province have pushed for the institutionalization in the entire country of the award-winning Upland Sustainable Agriforestry Convergence Program (USAD).
Rep. Adolph Edward Plaza of Agusan del Sur’s 2nd District and Rep. Alfelito Bascug of the province’s 1st District filed House Bill 3489, an act establishing the USAD program nationwide.
They believe this bill will improve poor farmers’ economic plight in upland communities.
Rep. Richard Gomez of Ormoc City and ten other lawmakers have co-authored the USAD bill.
Last year, the USAD program, which helped some 5,000 farmers in the hinterland areas of the province become more productive, was picked as one of the top 10 outstanding local governance programs of the Galing Pook Awards spearheaded by the Department of Interior and Local Government.
In their joint press statement, the two solons said the program would pave the way for underprivileged upland communities to recover faster from calamities, participate in protecting the environment, and fight poverty.
In his privileged speech, Plaza particularly cited that it is currently assisting about 5,000 farmer-enrollees and has been instrumental in reducing poverty in Agusan del Sur from 45 percent in 2016 to 32.4 percent in 2018.
Plaza shared how USAD has helped the agricultural sector in Agusan del Sur to shift “from planting crops to growing people by equipping and empowering farmers, instead of having them rely on dole outs.”
In a statement, Former Interior Secretary and Galing Pook Foundation chairperson Mel Senen Sarmiento said Agusan del Sur’s USAD program was a game changer for Agusanons.
“Its recovery and rehabilitation strategy led to the conservation of resources and poverty reduction among upland barangays,” Sarmiento said.