A program that aims to raise the economic status of Filipino fisherfolk by capacitating them on financial management was launched on May 23, in Quezon City.

DA-BFAR, one of the proponents of the Financial Education Program along with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, BDO Foundation, and the USAID’s Fish Right Program through the PATH Foundation PH Inc. and Siliman University, is targeting to enroll 25,000 fisherfolk nationwide into the program this year through the BFAR’s training programs.

“Despite the country’s rich fisheries and aquatic resources, many people belonging to the fisherfolk sector are economically challenged. That is why we continue to implement programs and projects like this to alleviate poverty in the fisheries sector,” BFAR National Director Eduardo B. Gongona said. This, according to him, is still part and parcel of Agriculture Secretary William Dar’s twin objective of a masaganang ani at mataas na kita for Filipino fisherfolk.

A financial education module called Fish N’ LEarn game was developed and trial-tested by the participating partners between 2020 and 2021. The game, which is to be delivered in Filipino and other Philippine languages, centers on five key messages:

● Maging mapagkalinga sa karagatan

● Mag-impok ngayon para sa kinabukasan

● Magpalago ng kita sa pamamagitan ng pagnenegosyo

● Magseguro para protektado

● Maging matalino sa pag-utang

Towards the end of the game, participants are expected to learn achieving long-term objectives through basic personal financial management skills, simple tips about earning additional income other than fishing, and rights and responsibilities of financial consumers. The module also incorporates topics on saving, budgeting, debt management, basic financial products (basic deposit accounts, micro-insurance), micro-entrepreneurship, and scam prevention.

By educating fisherfolk on improving their household savings, establishing community saving groups, proper use of loans, and availing of financial services, DA-BFAR intends to help break the vicious cycle of poverty and natural resource depletion in the sector, Gongona added.

The program is set for a nationwide roll-out in the coming weeks. BFAR and its partners will cascade the modules to fisherfolk by embedding it into their technical and regular training programs and will establish a system to measure the effect on fisherfolk’s financial behavior and to continuously improve the training programs.