The Department of Agriculture in Bicol recognized 42 young agripreneurs who aced the 2023 Young Farmers Challenge (YFC) Start-Up and Upscale Competition in an awarding ceremony held in DA Compound on September 28, 2023.

DA Bicol Regional Technical Director for Operations Luz R. Marcelino and Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) Chief and YFC Focal Person Adelina A. Losa personally handed the awards to the 39 YFC Start-Up provincial awardees and top three YFC Upscale regional awardees.

Sixteen of the YFC Start-Up provincial awardees were from Albay; seven were from Camarines Sur and Naga City; six were from Masbate; six were from Catanduanes; and four were from Sorsogon. They received a total of P80,000 financial assistance to serve as their start-up capital for their individual or group-managed agri-fishery venture.

Meanwhile, Angelica Porto of Tigaon, Camarines Sur, 1st place; Joshua M. Ros of Ligao City, Albay, 2nd place; and Carine May O. Virtus of Bula, Camarines Sur, 3rd place, were hailed as top three regional awardees of the YFC Upscale 2023. They received a financial grant worth P300,000 each to serve as additional capital in scaling-up their current agribusiness operations.

The YFC Start-Up provincial awardees will advance to the regional level competition. Porto, on the other hand, will compete at the YFC Upscale national level competition to get a chance to win P500,000 additional capital and receive a YFC Mentoring Assistance from a panel of coaches to enhance her business pitch deck, business plan and agri-enterprise implementation.

In her message, Losa thanked the young agripreneurs for joining the YFC competition. She also acknowledged the Provincial YFC coordinators’ assistance. She added that since YFC was launched in 2021, Bicol already has 178 agribusiness projects led by young agripreneurs.

“Ta’no nag-i-engage ang DA sa mga young farmers? As I’ve said, sabi baga, kamo ang pag-asa ng bayan. So, sa ngonian pa lang dapat ma-realize ta na that ang Pilipinas talagang agricultural country so digdi kita ma-asenso. At this early, sa edad pa sana nindo na yan, ini-encourage mi na kamo mag-venture on agri business,” Losa said.

She also assured the awardees of the DA Bicol’s continuous guidance and monitoring. Moreover, she reiterated the instruction that all YFC awardees should register to the barangay microbusiness enterprise. According to Losa, this will allow their business to have a legal personality.

Furthermore, she exhorted the YFC awardees to pursue goodness even as they aim for business excellence.

“Bako lang kita magayon na mag-business, maging maray kitang Pilipino. Maging respectful kita. Maging marhay ang ugali,” she added.

Marcelino, on the other hand lauded the YFC awardees’ unwavering commitment to the advancement of the agricultural industry in Bicol. She echoed Losa’s advice to the young agripreneurs to practice respect for the elderly and espect for hierarchy.

“Make sure that you also respect the elders as well as respect hierarchy because that is a very important aspect in the success of an individual. The object of mentoring is not only about perfection, it’s about improvement,” she related.

DA Senior Undersecretary Domingo F. Panganiban and Senator Maria Imelda Josefa Remedios “Imee” R. Marcos graced the occasion.

In a video message, USec. Panganiban extended President and DA Secretary Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s congratulations to the YFC awardees and underscored their significant role in attaining food security considering the increased support, energy, and innovation that the agriculture and fisheries now require.

“The Young Farmers Challenge Program thus prepares our best and brightest to assume the responsibilities as leaders and innovators in the farm and in the fisheries sector as well. By supporting and encouraging the entrepreneurial talent of the Filipino youth, the program advances the President’s goal of securing a greener, more food-secure future for our people,” USec. Panganiban said.

Likewise, in her message, keynote speaker Senator Marcos expressed her congratulations to the YFC awardees saying “Ikinagagalak ko ang patuloy na paglahok ng kabataang Pinoy sa Young Farmers Challenge Program ng Department of Agriculture. Patuloy kong sinusuportahan ang programang ito bilang personal na adbokasiya sa paniniwalang ang paglago ng ating agrikultura ay nasa kamay na ng bagong henerasyon ng mga inspirado, mapag-imbento, at masisipag na magsasaka. Taun-taon, bunga ng pag-asa ang bawat kalahok sa paligsahang YFC patungo sa pambansang kasapatan sa pagkain. Ipagmalaki ang pagiging kabataang magsasaka.”

The YFC Start-Up is a competitive financial grant assistance given to qualified youths aged 18 to 30 years old who will engage in agri-fishery ventures while the YFC Upscale is a competition of all previous YFC awardees who aspire to elevate their agribusiness operations to the next level. About 56 young agripreneurs applied for the YFC Start-Up while 15 contestants competed for the YFC Regional Level. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V with reports from Janard Manlangit and Julie Ann P. Santos, DA AMAD V)

Photo Credits: Ramon C. Adversario Jr.