VIRAC, CATANDUANES  – Over 150 Agricultural Extension Workers (AEWs) implementing the High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) and National Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture Program (NUPAP) in their respective provincial or municipal Local Government Units trooped to the happy island for the first quarter review of the programs.

Dr. Mary Grace DP. Rodriguez, OIC Regional Technical Director for Operations and HVCDP focal person led the three day activity held on April 23 to 26, 2024. She lauded the efforts of the AEWs as DA’s partners in the implementation of major programs.  “Your contributions, no matter how small always make a difference,” Dr. Rodriguez said.

Dr. Rodriguez also reiterated the protocols in the distribution of interventions, guidelines in generating planting and production reports as well as submission of damage reports, implementing the planting calendar, focusing on cost and return for the priority commodities,  among others for a better program implementation. She also emphasized the factors to be considered in coming up with quality data, namely: accuracy, validity, completeness, timeliness, relevance and consistency.

Vice Governor Peter Cua; Edwin Benavidez from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist; and Alma Villanueva from the TGP Party List also graced the workshop. APCO for Catanduanes Raphael Magallanes and CHUDS Superintendent Dean Medrano were also present.

One of the highlights of the activity was the surprise recognition of the retired provincial and municipal HVCDP coordinators of Catanduanes who were awarded with certificates and some tokens for their valuable contributions in the agri sector when they were still in service.

The Provincial HVCDP Coordinators reported the status of program implementation in their respective provinces particularly on the program’s priority commodities  such as lowland and highland vegetables like ampalaya, eggplant, squash and string beans.    Other priority crops of the HVCDP are pili, pineapple, sweet potato, cacao, taro or gabi, tomato, siling labuyo, chili pepper, and industrial crops such as  bamboo.

Marilene Dimaculangan, NUPAP regional coordinator discussed the eligible projects which can be availed by the LGUs, schools, and farmers cooperatives and associations under this new program such as inputs for seedling production, nursery establishment, hydroponics production, greenhouse and rainshelter.

Maricris Reforba, Assistant Regional Coordinator for HVCDP discussed the Gulayan sa Barangay contest – a new project to be launched this year. There is also the Search for Outstanding AEW for 2024. The search which is on its third year, is being conducted only in the Bicol region being the trailblazer of the contest.

All in all, the objectives of the workshop to build deeper connections among the AEWs and to create innovation were realized through the sharing of best practices. Thus, they went home to their respective provinces armed with a renewed vigor and enthusiasm to continue doing their noble job as frontliners in the implementation of the DA programs in the countryside.  (Lovella P. Guarin – DA RAFIS 5) Photo credit: Eduardo Collantes, Jr.