CALAPAN CITY, ORIENTAL MINDORO –  The Department of Agriculture Rice Program honored 61 outstanding Agricultural Extension Workers (AEWs) and 10 outstanding Local Farmer Technicians (LFTs) from the three big regions of Southern Luzon – CALABARZON (Region 4A), MIMAROPA (Region 4B) and Bicol (Region 5), during the  Rice Achievers Awarding Ceremony held at Ferrarin Hills Resort here on August 8, 2017. The awarding was hosted by DA MIMAROPA.

                 The annual Rice Achievers Awards which started in 2011 aims to recognize the significant contributions of the Local Government Units (LGUs), agricultural extension workers and other stakeholders in the rice industry in achieving food sufficiency in the country.

 This year, Bicol region has the biggest number of awardees in the South Luzon cluster with 27 AEWs and five LFTs, while CALABARZON has 10 outstanding AEWs and one LFT, and MIMAROPA has 24 AEWs and 4 LFTs. Each awardee received P20,000 cash prize and plaque.

 

 Dr. Louella Rowena Lorenzana, OIC Regional Executive Director (RED) of DA MIMAROPA, the host region; RED Arnel De Mesa of DA CALABARZON; and  DA Bicol OIC Regional Technical Director for Operations and Extension Rodel P. Tornilla who represented DA Bicol RED Elena B. delos Santos, led their respective delegates.

 The outstanding AEWs from Bicol were: from Camarines Sur: Tita Bendaña (Minalabac), Jocelyn Comprado (Pamplona), Nercy Alvaro (Libmanan), Allan Salvador (San Fernando), Anicia Mancita (Magarao), Julieta Deris (Nabua), Sylvia Oaferina (Buhi), Elsa Cabrera (Buhi), Janice Orciga (Iriga City), Celedonio Elevado Jr. (Nabua), Hector Llagas (Bato),  Rowena Otamias (Sipocot), Gregorio Beldad (Ocampo), Jessie Bare (Ocampo), Dolores Bongalos (Pili), Raul Conmigo (Sagñay), Grace Santelices (San Jose), Marinette Briñas (Baao), Aline Bravo (Baao), Rosa Belgica (Canaman), and Cheryll Rebeta, Provincial Agriculturist of Albay.

 From Catanduanes: Eva Laurente (San Andres). From Albay: Prescilla Ferrer (Manito), Mat Peñafiel (Ligao City), and Meden Castor (Ligao City). From Masbate City : Ulysses Cabrera Jr.

 Ligao City Agriculturist  Dexter  Mendoza  was also awarded as City Agriculturist of the city of Ligao being adjudged as Outstanding City. Ligao City received P1 million cash award during the national awarding in Manila in May.

 All five LFT awardees were from Camarines Sur, namely Genaro Tamon Jr. (Magarao), Erwin Barnuevo (Minalabac), Ramon Gaudiel (Pili), William Bisenio (Baao), Chimmie Aguilar (Sipocot)

                 Governor Alfonso V. Umali Jr. in his welcome message lauded the current programs of the DA particularly the solar powered irrigation.  “Marami nang naibigay na irrigation at postharvest facilities ang DA . I think tama ang direction natin. Pero kailangan sama-sama tayo. Mag-usap tayo.  The LGU is open anytime. Ano ba ang gusto nating maachieve? At lagyan natin ng timeframe. The DA, DAR and DENR should have a convergence. Hangga’t hindi dumadami ang farmers, kulang ang ani natin. Hangga’t wala silang mapagbentahan, mananatili silang hawak sa leeg ng mga middlemen. So kahit magbigay tayo ng magbigay ng lahat ng kailangan nila kung wala nang magfafarm ay wala rin. Sana dumami ang ating farmers. “ He challenged the awardees to encourage more people to engage in farming.

 “But the farmers should be entrepreneurs and think like businessmen para hindi napagsasamantalahan ng middle men,” Governor Umali added.

                 In his speech, OIC RTD Tornilla of DA Bicol who earlier attended the awarding ceremony of ASEAN outstanding Rice Farmer and Scientist in Manila, quoted Usec. Serrano who was the guest speaker during the ASEAN awarding,  saying  “Paano ba natin mapasasalamatan ang AEWs at LFTs na kadalasan ay mahigit sa 1,000 ektarya ang sakop na palayan. Gumigising bago pa tumilaok ang manok upang mapuntahan ang magsasaka at mapataas ang ani. Sila ay mga bayani ng DA dahil kung wala ang mga AEWs hindi maiimplement nang mahusay ang mga programa ng kagawaran.”  Tornilla also added that he wants to see new faces in the next Rice Achievers Awards as most of the Bicol’s AEWs are already hall of famer or have been awardees for three consecutive years.

                 Also present during the awarding ceremony were Mayor Arnan C. Panaligan of Calapan City;  OIC RTD Ronie F. Panoy of DA MIMAROPA; OIC RED Milo delos Reyes and RTD Elmer Ferry of CALABARZON; Dr. Santiago Obien, National Rice Program senior adviser and former Undersecretary Dante Delima and rice program staff of the three regions. (Lovella Guarin/ photo credits Eduardo Collantes, Jr.)