“Great works are performed not just by strength but also by perseverance.” ~ Samuel Johnson

Responding to the need for reducing the poverty index of our farmers is not an easy task. Often, the journey to our goal of giving a more comfortable life for our farmer-beneficiaries is fraught with challenges such as today’s global crisis. This call to action entails the sense of sincerity and determination among every single individual working for its pursuit and this is where the true test of our inner grit of perseverance and resiliency begins to unfold.

In Agusan del Sur, the Convergence on Value Chain Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment Project (Project ConVERGE), being a development initiative that aims to help rural farmers by increasing their capacities to earn and provide a better living to their respective families has provided rural infrastructures to the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organizations (ARBOs) which will support to the success to the rice business among the VETREBUNS ARC Cluster.

As planned, the construction of a warehouse for the Multi-Pass Rice Mill is underway since its groundbreaking on January 14, 2020. Series of coordination meetings and dialogues among its implementers and stakeholders have been conducted since then, ensuring the immediate completion of the building so that the rice enterprise will soon be operationalized.

However, a major setback came after the province was placed under the Enhance Community Quarantine (ECQ) due to COVID-19. The impeded movement caused by lockdown, travel restrictions, and the submission to health protocols at the checkpoints has agitated the laid-out targets and procedures set for the infrastructure project.

But this challenge did not stop the project from pushing through, instead gave them the driving force to come up with strategies to pursue the construction as well as boosting its linkages with its partners and stakeholders. Through their concerted efforts, the people of Project ConVERGE Agusan del Sur optimized and focused on utilizing the available resources acquired prior to the lockdown. They also had a close coordination with the local government unit to ensure that the workers can remain working for the construction without neglecting their health and safety. These matters were carefully planned out to guarantee that all factors must be considered during the continuation of the warehouse project.

“We are making great efforts to maintain construction site operations. We are committed to adapt within our capacities to continue to push ahead with the construction despite the current challenge because this is very essential for our farmer-beneficiaries”, said Provincial Project Director Jamil P. Amatonding, Jr.

Although the pacing of the construction was adjusted to adhere to the government policies during the health crisis, Provincial Project Coordinator Engr. Gudy P. Centina said that the overall progress of the project has not been compromised. In fact, as the construction is heading towards its completion, with the current status of 53.79%, the quality has also been monitored with the help of the Local Government Unit.

“As implementers of this project, we have been dedicated to accomplished our deliverables despite the challenges that hamper our plans and activities.” Said Regional Director Leomides R. Villareal.

“It is in these breakthroughs that we see how Project ConVERGE adheres to its mission and objectives as well as that of the Department of Agrarian Reform and the International Fund for Agricultural Development as its funding agency”, he added.

Our dreams and goals for the farmer-beneficiaries are delicately sculpted by a fierce and spirited passion to pursue. Every loss along the way can fortify an admirable firmness to keep on striving and the confidence to move forward that underpins a string of optimistic growth, forecasts a sustainable rice enterprise for the coming years. This somehow proves that there is no ceasing when it comes to helping improve the life chances of our farmers, not even a global pandemic.