DA Bicol celebrates weeklong Farmers’ Festival

SAN AGUSTIN, PILI, CAMARINES SUR – In celebration of the feast of St. Isidore, the Patron Saint of the Department of Agriculture (DA) as well as the farmers, the DA Bicol staged this year’s Farmers’ Festival cum Kadiwa sa DA on May 15 – 18, 2023.

The weeklong festivities were ushered by a thanksgiving mass celebrated by Rev. Fr. Rex Hidalgo followed by the opening of the Farmers’ Festival and Kadiwa sa DA. The Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) invited 36 exhibitors composed of Kadiwa partners, accredited civil society organizations (CSOs), farmers cooperatives and associations, Young Farmer Challenge winners, organic agriculture practitioners, MSMEs, several Municipal Local Government Units and the Provincial Government Units of Albay, Camarines Norte and Masbate. The two-day Kadiwa sa DA garnered a total sales of P567,388.

DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla together with 2023 Farmer Director Bernadette B. delos Santos led the festivities. True to its reputation as a trailblazer, DA Bicol again introduced another first in the installation of Farmer Technical Directors (FTD) for Farmers Month. RED Tornilla appointed RAFC’s Rebecca S. Purisima (Chairperson of RAFC Food Value Chain Sectoral Committee), and Engr. Raul T. Carreras (Chairperson, RAFC Farm Mechanization Sectoral Committee and RAFC Vice Chairperson) as FTD for Operations and Research respectively. Both of them are national Gawad Saka achievers (Purisima – Outstanding Farm Family 2019 and DA’s national outstanding Rural Woman 2017; while Engr. Carreras – Outstanding Sugarcane Farmer 2004).

In her speech, Farmer Director delos Santos paid tribute to the farmers who are producing our food. “Farming and agriculture are the backbones of our society: not law, nor medicine, not accountancy, nor religion. We, because am one of you, are the backbones of our society,” she said. She added that according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, small-scale farmers produce about 80% of the food in developing countries like the Philippines, making them critical to global food security. Without farmers, we wouldn’t have access to food and other necessities. So we take a moment, a month, to really appreciate this profession and all the hard work and dedication the farm life requires. Let us take this time of the year to really celebrate us, farmers and fisherfolks. And how else can we show such celebration and appreciation than by purchasing locally grown fruits, vegetables, plants and trees. Let us support our local farmers!” delos Santos quipped.

Another highlight of the first day was the mass distribution of P134.9 M worth interventions consisting of hybrid palay seeds, fertilizers, laminated sacks, knapsack sprayers, all from the Rice Program; multi-cultivators and pump irrigation system open source (PISOS) from High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP); and free ranged chicken from the Livestock and Poultry Program.

Meanwhile, the Research Division together with the six Research Outreach Stations showcased their matured technologies and priority agri commodities that are products of research studies in the Rice Technology Festival held at the Central Bicol Experiment Station (CBES). In the afternoon a forum on “Pesticide Safe Handling to Ensure Public and Food Safety” was conducted by the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority.

On May 17, the 3rd Vegetable Seed Derby and Harvest Festival spearheaded by the HVCDP was held at Curry, Pili where 14 seed companies were allotted with 1,500 sq. m each to showcase their best vegetable varieties. In the afternoon, pet owners brought their dogs and cats for free anti-rabies vaccination and castration courtesy of the Regulatory Division. On May 18, the Regional Agricultural Engineering Division will have an agri-machinery demonstration in the morning, to be followed by the opening of the DA employees Sportsfest. (Lovella P. Guarin)