THE Department of Agriculture (DA) will start implementing this year the Seedling Bank Project intended to help drug dependents undergoing rehabilitation.

Joyce Wendam, officer-in-charge regional director of DA-Negros Island Region (NIR), said the initiative proposed by the agency’s Field Operation Services will be carried out in collaboration with the Department of Health (DOH), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Justice (DOJ), and local government units (LGUs).

Wendam said it will complement to the government's campaign on eradicating illegal drugs mainly through providing rehabilitation "internees" an alternative source of livelihood.

“We will promote agriculture also as a means of further equipping drug affected individuals in achieving their desired change," the DA official said, adding that the project will cover drug rehabilitants in Negros and other regions in the country.

Under the project, the DA will provide interventions by providing seeds of different crops, fertilizers and other farm inputs, small infrastructures like nurseries, and greenhouses.

Social preparation activities like capacity-building for the recipients will also be provided.

Wendam said the income-generating project covers drug dependents undergoing rehabilitation, or those who have completed the drug rehabilitation program.

Its specific objective is to capacitate beneficiaries with the skills and knowledge pertaining to viable operation of the seedling bank and other livelihood projects, Wendam said.

“The seeds and other interventions will serve as start-up capital for the recipients who will generate income by selling their produce aside from utilizing it for their consumption," she said.

Beneficiaries are not obliged to pay back the government for the project as it in form of grant, Wendam added.

DOH will identify the potential rehabilitation centers to be piloted for the project while the DILG will provide necessary manpower complement in the conduct of site and "internees" identification and social preparation.

It will also provide raw land adjacent to the rehabilitation centers for the establishment of production areas.