MASBATE – To see how the High Value Crops Development Program is faring in the 6 provinces of Bicol, the DA Bicol convened all the Agricultural Extension Workers implementing the program in their respective Local Government Units (LGUs).

Dr. Mary Grace DP. Rodriguez, HVCDP focal person said that the LGUs and their respective AEWs are the DA’s partners in program implementation, hence the conduct of the FY 2023 1st Semester AEW Implementation Workshop in Masbate City on August 8 to 11, 2023.

In attendance were the HVCDP team composed of regional office staff and the 179 Provincial/ Municipal HVCDP Coordinators and Report Officers from 6 provinces of the Bicol Region namely: Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon.

To update the AEWs on current undertakings of the agency, Dr. Rodriguez discussed the Expansion on Export Commodities (Pili and Pineapple). Marilene Dimaculangan, F2C2 Program focal person discussed Farm and Fisheries Clustering and Consolidation (F2C2), Civil Society Organization (CSO) Accreditation Updates, and High Value Crops AEWs Achievers Award Guidelines. Dexter Paz discussed the Fuel Subsidy Guidelines, while the HVCDP technical staff shared the FY 2023 HVCDP 1st Semester Accomplishment. Meanwhile, the Provincial HVCDP Coordinators presented the High Value Crops Profile of their respective provinces. Engr. Cesar Cordenete, Jr. for Albay; Marilyn Puatu for Camarines Norte; Dr. Irma Intia, Mun. HVCDP Coordinator of Libmanan presented for Cam. Sur; Ariel Tabuzo for Catanduanes; Annie Jane Mondares for Masbate; and Carlo Diaz, Provincial Report Officer, presented the profile of Sorsogon.

Retiring Provincial HVCDP Coordinator Cita Caña and five retiring Municipal HVCDP Coordinators of Masbate were awarded with certificates of recognition for their valuable contributions in the development of high value crops industry in the region particularly in Masbate Province.

Also part of the activity was the Exposure Trip and Benchmarking of the AEWs in Masbate city and some municipalities of the province. In the city, they visited the Mangrovetum Park. Masbate is rich in mangroves, a sign of its healthy ecosystem. Mangrovetum is one of the mangrove parks surrounding the island. It is located along Nursery Road, just a few minutes ride from the city proper. In Milagros, 39 kilometers away from the Mangrovetum is the Butalid Farm at Brgy. Paraiso. The farm is not just planted with dragon fruits and vegetables, it is where you can commune with nature. Overlooking this farm is the Luacan Water Park. They also visited the Arcena’s mango plantation, owned by Eduardo M. Arcenas Jr located also in Milagros. This 11-hectare farm is planted with 1,000 mango trees and 1.2 hectares dragon fruit. Arcena discussed his best practices on mango production, while the HVCDP staff demonstrated the use of lifting machine and it’s efficiency on bagging of fruits, flower induction and pruning. In Balud, the group visited an integrated farm certified by ATI as Learning Site planted with rice, vegetables, dragon fruit. The farm is being managed by Edgardo S. Lopez, an organic practitioner.

The weeklong activities were graced by Masbate OIC Provincial Agriculturist Grace Graciana M. Tagnipez, and Masbate Agricultural Program Coordinating Officer Wilfredo DJ. Nelmida.