SAN AGUSTIN, PILI, CAMARINES SUR – Some 401 lucky applicants out of 430 applicants from Bicol region were granted with scholarships under the Department of Agriculture –  Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) – Grants-In-Aid for Higher Education Program (DA ACEF-GIAHEP) for the school year (SY) 2020- 2021 until SY 2024 – 2025. These are in addition to the 302 ACEF-GIAHEP scholars currently enrolled in various State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) or Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Bicol.

Among the 17 regions, Bicol has the most number of grantees for this year which is 18% of the total 2,160 grantees in the Philippines.

The new scholarship grantees for this year came from the six provinces of Bicol. Catanduanes has the highest scholarship grantees with 203; Camarines Norte has 80 grantees; Cam. Sur has 63 grantees; Masbate – 49 grantees; Albay has 24 grantees and Sorsogon has 9 grantees.

ACEF – GIAHEP is a one of the programs of the Department of Agriculture to encourage the youth to pursue higher education and take up agriculture related courses. “ACEF-GIAHEP aims to contribute to the development of agriculture and fisheries by increasing the number of graduates in higher education who are trained in the scientific habit of thought, entrepreneurial skills and technical competencies in the areas of agriculture, forestry, fisheries veterinary medicine and related agricultural education programs.”

The DA ACEF-GIAHEP provides these scholars with P3,500 / month stipend (for 10 months per school year) during the duration of their higher education which maybe four years or more; and one time thesis project grant of  P15,000 for the whole course and P3,000 Practicum / On-the-Job Training (OJT)  allowance. Honor students also receive P10,000 academic award.

Dr. Edgar R. Madrid, Regional Technical Director for Research and Regulations and Regional Coordinator of ACEF – GIAHEP in Bicol said that the program started in Bicol in 2010 and has already produced 262 graduates of agri related courses. He added that there are 302 scholars currently enrolled in various SUCs/HEIs: 50 in Albay; 93 in Cam. Norte; 24 in Cam. Sur; 30 in Catanduanes; 47 in Masbate; and 56 scholars in Sorsogon.

In 10 years of implementation of ACEF-GIAHEP, it has already granted scholarships to a total of 598 deserving scholars  who are mostly children of small farmers and fisherfolk, underprivileged and homeless, and indigenous people. Graduating Senior High Students and currently enrolled college students are usually encouraged to apply in the months of April to June annually. Applications could be submitted to the DA RFO 5 ACEF Secretariat at or to the partner SUCs/HEIs.

In the province of Camarines Sur , scholars can choose between the two partner SUCs/HEIs, Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) in Pili, and Partido State University (PSU) in Goa.

In Albay province, scholars may opt to study in one of the three campuses of Bicol University (BU) such as BU Tabaco,  and BU College of Agriculture and  Fisheries in Guinobatan.

Meanwhile, scholars from Camarines Norte may choose Cam. Norte State College (CNSC) in Mercedes, CNSC in Labo, and Cam. Norte College of Arts and Business (CANCAB).

In Catanduanes, scholars may choose between Catanduanes State University main campus or Panganiban Campus.

In Masbate, scholars may enroll at Dr. Emilio B. Espinosa Sr. Memorial State College  of Agriculture and Technology (DEBESMSCAT) in Cawayan.

In Sorsogon, scholars may opt to enroll in Sorsogon State College (SSC) in Castilla or in SSC Magallanes campus;  Bicol University in Gubat and Veritas College of Irosin.

For this SY 2020- 2021, the regional ACEF-GIAHEP Secretariat forwarded a total of  430 applicants to the national secretariat.

Applications in the DA RFO 5 are being submitted by ACEF –GIAHEP regional coordinator to DA Undersecretary for Special Concerns and ACEF-GIAHEP National Focal Person Waldo R. Carpio, and are forwarded to Agriculture Secretary William Dar for his approval.

 (Lovella P. Guarin – DA RAFIS 5 / with reports from DA RFO 5 ACEF-GIAHEP Secretariat)