NAGA CITY – Department of Agriculture Bicol honored 10 Regional Outstanding Gawad Saka achievers three Rural Women Achievers in a simple awarding ceremonies held in a hotel here.

Under the 2019 Regional Gawad Saka awards, five (5) individuals and five (5) groups were recognized for their exemplary contributions to the development of agriculture in their different areas.

The following were the winners in the individual categories: Edgar A. Pesebre of Balanguibang, Polangui, Albay is Regional Outstanding Rice Farmer.  Nomer C. Mortega of Magallanes, Sorsogon is Regional Outstanding Young Farmer. Lino C. Jamora, Sr. of Aroroy, Masbate is Regional Outstanding High Value Crops Farmer. Josephine G. Artiaga of Lupi, Camarines Sur is Regional Outstanding Organic Agriculture Farmer. HML Foods Corporation of Daraga, Albay is Regional Outstanding Agri-Entrepreneur.

For the Gawad Saka group categories, the awardees were: Bayani Purisima and family – Outstanding Farm Family; San Roque Rural Improvement Club (RIC) – Outstanding RIC; Municipal Agricultural and Fishery Council (MAFC) of Baras – Outstanding MAFC; Provincial Agricultural and Fishery Council (PAFC) of Camarines Norte – Outstanding PAFC; City Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (CFARMC) of Masbate City – Outstanding CFARMC.

The winners in the Gawad Saka individual categories received P50,000 cash award each, and P75,000 for the winning groups. The Agricultural Extension Workers who assisted the winners in packaging the scrap book also received cash prize of P15,000.

Meanwhile, three admirable rural women were also feted during the ceremony.

Hailed as 2019 Regional Outstanding Rural Woman is Rossini Obligacion of Ligao City. Obligacion is a nurse by profession, but opted to be a full time farmer. She owns and manages the Joross Farm, commercial producer of organic culinary and medicinal herbs, fruits and vegetables. She is also a certified organic practitioner and consultant and a staunch advocate of organic agriculture and healthy living.

The second place regional outstanding Rural Woman is 76 year old Yolanda De Leon of Gubat, Sorsogon and third place is Anicia Baluzo of Daet, Camarines Norte.

Obligacion received P30,000 while De Leon received P15,000 and P10,000 for Baluzo.

Dr. U-nichols A. Manalo, the Chief of DA Special Project Coordinating and Management Assistance Division represented DA Undersecretary for Operations Ariel T. Cayanan as keynote speaker. In his speech, Manalo cited that most of the Filipino farmers are already greying, as the outstanding farmers are mostly above 50 years old. And even the Agricultural Technicians are also greying, he said. Thus, he encouraged the parents who have children working abroad to encourage their children to invest in agriculture in their respective areas. He also challenged the LGUs as DA’s partner, to push the young agricultural students to partner with the farmers in their areas and practice what they learn in school.

Manalo also underscored the vital role of the Agricultural and Fishery Council (AFC) volunteers for their support in the agriculture sector. 

Meanwhile, DA Bicol OIC Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla lauded the painstaking efforts of the Gawad Saka and Outstanding Rural Women search committees for consistently coming up with national winners in the different categories. Eight regional Gawad Saka winners made it as national finalists while the Bicolana rural women were always in the top three in the national level.

Naga City Mayor Nelson Legacion cited the pressing problems besetting the agriculture sector but there is still hope as there are already researches, plans and roadmaps crafted. “We need only to follow them,” he added. Also present during the awarding ceremonies were Adelina A. Losa, DA Bicol OIC Regional technical Director for Operations; Aloha Gigi I. Banaria, regional Gawad Saka coordinator;  Cecilia V. De Asis, Naga City Vice Mayor and National Federation President of Rural Improvement Clubs; Rowena Briones of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources; Polangui Mayor Andy Mariscotes; Masbate City Vice Mayor Ruby Sanches; Regional AFC Chairperson Jose Cordero and Provincial AFC officers and coordinators; provincial Gawad Saka Coordinators; provincial and municipal agriculturists of winning provinces/municipalities; and GREAT women entrepreneurs.