BUHANGIN, DAVAO CITY –    Some 2,000 delegates from all over the country gathered in an inland resort  of this city for the  four-in-one event :  the 14th Philippine National Corn Congress, the awarding ceremonies for   the 6th National  Quality Corn Achievers Awards(NQCAA) ,  the 2nd Cassava Cluster  Management Excellence Award (CCMEA) and the 2nd Cornucopia Awards.

The corn congress is an annual activity  which serves as the venue for the various stakeholders of the corn industry to gather and  discuss the current issues of the sector, share the best  farm practices, showcase modern farm equipment, technologies and forge market linkages.   It is highlighted with the conferment of the  NQCAA, CCMEA  and CORNUCOPIA  to recognize  the achievements of top performing Local Government Units  and stakeholders in producing quality corn and cassava  in support to the  development of corn and cassava industry and the animal feed industry.

For  the NQCAA, 5 top performing provinces  were awarded  with cash (project) grant of P5M and trophy  along with their  respective provincial agriculturists and corn coordinators who also received a trophy and cash prize.  Twenty five (25) municipalities and cities along with 21 municipal and city agriculturists and  16 corn coordinators were also awarded with cash prize and trophy.  This year a total of 90 agricultural extension workers (AEW)  were likewise accorded awards and recognition.

Three LGUs from the Bicol region qualified for the national awards.  These are the LGUs of Calabanga,  Iriga City and Ligao City along with their respective  Municipal/City agriculturist and corn technician or AEW.  A cash grant of P1M and trophy was  given to Iriga City and Ligao City.   The LGU of Calabanga, Camarines Sur  which had been a national  winner of the award for three consecutive years  was accorded the  Hall of Fame Award and was given a special trophy and a cash grant of P2M which was received by Mayor Eduardo A. Severo.  Correspondingly Calabanga’s  Municipal Agriculturist Gil Gabriel H. Bordado III  and AEW Joshua  T. Ipo were  accorded the Hall of  Fame Award and given a special trophy and cash prize of  P45,000. The trophy and cash prize for Ligao  City  was received by Mayor  Patricia G. Alsua and City Agriculturist  Eng. Dexter  G. Mendoza.  The award for Iriga City was received by  Ruben S. De los Santos, City Agriculturist  in behalf of Mayor Madeline A. Gazmin.

Nine other AEWs from Bicol made it to the national award.  They are:  Noel G. Manaog and Buster Ibarbia of Buhi; Ryan F. Calatrava and Carlos B. Azanes of Calabanga; Marly L. Corporal and Honesto C. Sirios Jr. of Iriga City; Hector Llagas of Bato, Cam, Sur; Victor B. Cortes of Baao; and Mary Jane Alivcante of Cataingan, Masbate.  They each received a trophy and cash prize of P16,000.

DA regional Executive Director Dr. Elena B. De los Santos along with OIC, Regional Technical Director for Operations and Extension, Rodel Tornilla, Lorenzo Alvina, Regional Corn Coordinator and Dr. Mary Grace Rodriguez also joined the Bicol  winners in receiving their awards.

Meanwhile, the  Cornucopia Award  which is now on its 2nd year  is being given  to  provide incentives  and recognize the ingenuity and resourcefulness of  organizations  in  implementing value adding  on corn and cassava primary products.  Three farmers organizations from Zamboanga  del Sur, Calamba, Laguna and Misamis Oriental  were conferred  this award.

For the Cassava Cluster Management  Award  which recognizes the contributions of cassava clusters to the advancement  of the cassava industry , three cluster organizations were also given awards one from Manolo Fortich Bukidnon, one from Banga, South Cotabato and another one from Carigara, Leyte.

The guest of honor and keynote speaker during the awarding ceremonies was Senator Cynthia A. Villar who is currently the chairperson Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.   Among the legislations she already proposed  she  mentioned the Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund and the Rice Ratification Bill which will be a big help to the farmers.  She also assured  her continuous pursuit of legislations and push for government interventions such as shared facilities program, access to credit, training through farmers school, mechanization and promotion of new technologies .

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Pinol who was not able to attend due to a conflict in schedule was represented by Eng. Ariel T. Cayanan, DA undersecretary for Operations and Agri- Fisheries and mechanization.  He reiterated the DA’s mandate to produce  enough, affordable, accessible and safe food.   He also underscored the vital role of the LGUs being at the forefront  in the implementation of agricultural programs.  He  said “LGUs provide the basic infrastructures that support and cater to the needs of the communities  in their respective areas  and they play a critical role in monitoring the various  development programs  in their respective areas.”

The other luminaries  who graced the four-in-one event were:  Dr. Andrew  B. Villacorta, Assistant  Secretary for Agri-Business and Field Operations, Assistant Secretary; Dr. Luz A. Taposok, OIC, Director, Agricultural Training Institute; Engr. Christopher V. Morales , Chief, Field Programs Operations Division;  Engr. Roger V. Navarro, president, Philippine Maize Federation, Inc.; Roderico R. Bioco, Chairman Emeritus , PhilMaize; Dr. Candido Damo, National Corn- Cassava Program  Director, Dir. Lorenzo M. Caranguian, Corn Program;  Dr. Edralina P.  Serrano, Adjunct professor, UPLB and chair, NQCAA   (EMILY B. BORDADO)