SORSOGON CITY - After five-months of listening to the lectures shared by experts via radio a total of 460 farmers, and students completed the course on Vegetable Production and were confirmed graduates of the School on the Air (SOA) by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) held in one of the garden resorts here.

The graduates came from the 10 municipalities which include Bulan, Barcelona, Casiguran , Gubat, Irosin, Juban, Prieto Diaz and Sorsogon City. The students came from the Bicol University , Gubat Campus and Technical Vocational School in Casiguran.

Rosita M. Imperial , regional coordinator of the High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) of the Department of Agriculture Bicol represented DA regional executive director Elena B. de los Santos. She said that the SOA is one of the extension methodologies being supported by the DA to disseminate and promote new technologies and good practices to farmers and other agriculture stakeholders. She explained that vegetable production which is one of the areas covered by the HVCDP program and one of the components of which is the provision of production support services and inputs such as seeds; small farm production equipment; small irrigation system, trainings, information services and marketing assistance.

 

As the DA’s training arm ATI provides trainings and other extension support and modalities like the SOA and Farmer’s Field schools. Imperial announces that the thrust of the DA now is to make school as learning sites; establish crop museums ; expand and strengthen community seed banking and continue to provide post-harvest and processing facilities. She also announced that the graduates of the SOA will be given starter kits so they can start their own vegetable gardens. The kit includes vegetable seeds, garden tools and seedling trays.

Meanwhile provincial agriculturist Dr. Maria Teresa V. Destura traced the history of farm radio program in other countries which proved to be a very useful medium for disseminating information about agriculture and related fields. Having been a radio announcer herself before joining the provincial agriculture office she narrated the sacrifices and challenges that a rural radiobroadcaster has to go through especially during her time when the internet and web were not yet available. She underscored the importance of having the right information , knowledge and skills in agricultural undertakings and reiterated the slogan of the province “Padabaan ta ang Sorsogon” ( Let us love Sorsogon)

Dr. Antonio Fuentes, provincial executive officer who represented governor Robert Lee -Rodrigueza said that the vegetable production program is not only about increasing production but uplifting the socio-economic status of the people and addressing the problem on malnutrition. He enjoined the SOA graduates to apply what they learn and “Do good turn for the province and earn additional income in an honest manner’.

Cirlo P. Nuyles , Chief of the Careers Development and Management Section/Information Services Section of the ATI who supervised the conduct of the SOA thanked the participants and their institutional partners. He announced that the next SOA in Sorsogon will be on free range chicken .
Also present during the graduation ceremonies were : Darius T. Bernardino, professor at the Bicol University who served as resource person for the SOA; Emily B. Bordado, Chief of the Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Information Section of the DA , Narciso Cayetano, provincial HVCDP coordinator and Michael D. Vilezar Information Officer of the ATI who coordinated the SOA.

During the graduation ceremonies arden tools including seedling trays were raffled off to lucky graduates.

The SOA was aired over two local radio stations : the Padaba 99.9 FM and Wow Smile FM 107.3 FM. (E. B. Bordado)