ZAMBOANGA CITY, January 26, 2021 — Rice shortage has been a long standing issue in the town of Tagasilay, Zamboanga City. Most farmers, also indigenous peoples, are more inclined to plant corn, cassava, copra and banana compared to rice due to soil suitability. 

The Tagasilay Indigenous People Organization (TIPO), a group composed of members from various tribes such as the Kalibugan, Sama Bangingi and Yakan, saw this as a problem. Noriel Ajilul, Association President, said that they had to purchase rice from nearby towns, paying exorbitant amounts on transportation and sky high prices of rice.

With the goal of solving this problem, Ajilul sought the assistance of National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) for a possible partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment in Zampen Region.

The TIPO pitched a business proposal of setting up a rice retailing hub in Tagasilay to serve the people and make rice an affordable staple.

DOLE 9 Regional Director Atty. Roy L. Buenafe said that the project is feasible and is eligible for funding under the DOLE’s Integrated Livelihood Program or DILP.

“The DILP or KABUHAYAN is a grant assistance for capacity-building on livelihood for the working poor, vulnerable and marginalized workers, either for individual or group livelihood projects/undertakings,” he said.

After accomplishing all the legwork, DOLE 9 represented by the Zamboanga City Field Office Chief Ian A. Lahi turned over 196 sacks of 25 kilograms well-milled rice worth Php 249,625.00 to Noriel Ajilul representing the /organization on January 20, 2021 at Barangay Tagasilay.NCIP-Zamboanga City Head Engr. George Jocutan witnessed the simple ceremony.

The NCIP, as a DOLE Accredited Co-Partner, shall assist in the implementation of the project to include monitoring and training to association members to ensure smooth flow of the business.

Ajilul expressed her gratitude to DOLE 9 and NCIP for providing the livelihood assistance.

“Not only will this help solve rice shortage in our town but will also augment the income of the members who earn below the minimum wage,” she added.

She concluded her message by telling organization members to work hand in hand in expanding their business. END/ With report from Joni Sarina R. Mejico