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Story by Jun Ayensa and Sensoy Constante | Heifer Southern Philippines
Photos courtesy of Heifer Philippines
Members of the Aurora Swine Raisers and Farmer’s Association (ASFA) self-help group (SHG) in the Philippines credit their fruit-bearing status to the leadership of a woman whose example created a ripple effect not only among members, but among the entire community.
Luzvisminda Rangas Sinagan, fondly called "Nanay Minda," is president of ASFA, one of the six SHGs organized under the Resource-Based and Integrated Social Enterprise for Sustainable Development (RISE) project. The RISE project is funded by Heifer International and implemented by Human Economic and Ecological Development, Inc. (HEED), in Sta. Josefa, Agusan del Sur.
In August 2011, Nanay Minda and her family were one of the original families to join the project. She received one grower pig, a gilt and a boar. She was trained in Heifer's 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development and applied what she learned. The principles of the Improved Animal Management Cornerstone was particularly helpful when Minda provided her pigs with good housing, preventive health management and appropriate feeding management. In just a year she was able to Pass on the Gift with even bigger animals than she originally received.
“I promised to Pass on the Gift to more families and to any member of the community who needs my help," Minda said. "I realized that God has given me so many blessings and gifts, both tangible and intangible; it is now time to give back and be of service to others.”
Raising pigs has brought a good income to the family in a short period of time. Within a year, in two farrowing/weaning cycles, Nanay Minda produced and sold 23 piglets, eight of which were used as trial pigs for the Farmer Field School (FFS)—another Heifer-initiated activity in the area. Sales of the 23 pigs totaled 57,500 Philippine pesos, or about $1,357. Boar servicing generated an additional income of 30,000 Philippine pesos, or about $714. After feed and medicine expenses, Minda earned 62,500 Philippine pesos, or about $1,488, from May 2011-September 2012.
Through Minda's good leadership and enterprise management skills, her group was able to scale-up the production and marketing of feeds for all project members. Minda initiated a practice where each member of HINIUSA (a federation of eight SHGs) became a retail outlet for feed. This resulted in increased feed production. Minda actively seeks opportunities for collaboration with different support agencies in the province. Thanks to her efforts, financial support from the Provincial Local Government of Agusan del Sur was secured. The funding was used to build a warehouse facility to support the association's feed milling operation. ASFA was also awarded support from the Municipal Local Government of Sta. Josefa for the construction of a solar dryer to serve as a communal drying facility for rice and corn products and feed ingredients from feed milling operations. The Barangay Local Government Unit provided the association with money for a refrigerator, which is used to store medicines for the Agrivet Supply Enterprise, managed by the RISE project's Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs).
As if her efforts were not enough for the project’s success, Nanay Minda still dreams big for her group, “I envision and plan to scale-up the enterprise of feed milling and engage in meat processing and livestock marketing and other enterprise opportunities for this project. I hope that all SHGs will become sustainable in their individual livelihoods. I know in my heart the best things are yet to come.”