SAN JOSE, NORTHERN SAMAR – Two remarkable women from the Barangay North Fisherfolk Association (BNFA) are making waves in the male-dominated fishing industry by breaking barriers and challenging traditional gender roles

Leading a thriving Bangus (milkfish) in cage project funded by the BFAR8 Special Area for Agricultural Development (BFAR8-SAAD) Phase II program, they celebrated their initial bangus harvest on January 17, 2024, paving the way for greater gender inclusivity in the fisheries sector.

Evelyn Guarena and Nancy Buna, both holding key positions as secretary and bookkeeper in the 19-member association, played significant roles in managing the project provided by the program. Their passion was evident throughout the entire process, from carefully nurturing the fingerlings, harvesting bangus down to selling their produce. Despite facing challenges as neophytes to Bangus culture, they emerged as pillars of the project’s successful initial harvest.

“Guin uupay po namon an amon association na maging progresibo ngan successful. Every Tuesday po kami na duha nakaschedule san pag feeding san bangus. Nagpapasalamat kami sin mga damo na baro. Yana nga harvest guiuupayi gud an experience.” These were the grateful remarks of Evelyn Guarena, BNFA Secretary.

(We are driven by a shared vision of making our association progressive and successful,” shared Guarena. “Every Tuesday, we worked together to ensure the proper feeding and care of the Bangus. This experience, culminating in our first harvest, has been incredibly rewarding.)

In 2023, BNFA received Php 1.2 million worth of livelihood assistance, including a series of comprehensive training, 6000 fingerlings, 240 bags of Aquafeeds, and a High-density Polyethylene (HDPE) Cage strategically positioned off the coast of San Jose. This intervention complemented their existing fishing practices, opening new avenues for income and productivity.

Through sheer hard work, the BNFA’s first harvest yielded an impressive 461 kilograms of milkfish. Selling their catch locally at Php180 per kilogram, they generated a total income of Php 82,260.00. The association plans to reinvest their profits in the second cropping and expansion of their cage.

Mr. Alfredo Evangelista, BNFA President, expressed gratitude for the significant help provided by SAAD. “Dako san bulig ang SAAD sa amo nga mahibaro kami sin paghandle san proyekto ngan san pan adlaw-adlaw na pamamalakad sin amon asosayon”

(SAAD has been our anchor of support,” expressed BNFA President Alfredo Evangelista. Their guidance and assistance were instrumental in providing us with knowledge on managing this project, and continue to be invaluable in our daily operations.)

Moreover, Evangelista not only commended the financial gains but also emphasized the importance of sustaining and building upon the support provided by SAAD. He further expressed the association’s keen interest in exploring additional agri-fisheries opportunities.

Recognizing the BNFA’s achievements, Northern Samar Provincial Fishery Officer, Maida De La Cruz, reiterated the Bureau’s unwavering commitment to ongoing support. She outlined plans for future post-harvest training sessions, aligning with the program’s dedication to empowering fisherfolk associations like the BNFA and promoting gender equality within the industry. ###

Writer: Shanly A. Salahid, BFAR8-SAAD CDO
Photo Credit: BFAR8- IEC & BFAR8-SAAD RPMO

About DA-BFAR SAAD Phase 2:
The Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-BFAR SAAD) Program Phase 2 aims to contribute to poverty reduction and improve the living conditions of vulnerable fisherfolk and their communities by providing sustainable livelihood opportunities and support for poor fishing sectors. These interventions intend to complement the DA banner programs and assist beneficiaries in establishing community-based fishery enterprises. The BFAR-SAAD strives to enhance food security and promote economic growth in targeted areas across the Philippines.