MAKATI CITY -- Thirty-five vegetable farmers were hailed as “farmer heroes” by leading tropical vegetable seeds company East-West Seed recently to commemorate its 35th anniversary.
The awarding capped East-West Seed’s three-month nationwide search for 35 “farmer heroes” who have achieved success, made significant contributions to their communities, demonstrated innovativeness in adopting new technologies, and could serve as role models of other farmers on how vegetable farming can enrich lives.
The search spanned 18 regions with over 800 farmers recognized as “Regional Champs.” From the pool of “Regional Champs,” the 35 farmer heroes were selected.
The winning farmers are: Lino Kitongan (Mountain Province); Jose Madriaga (Ilocos Sur), Eduardo dela Cruz Jr., Gabby Retuya and Bonifacio Bautista (Pangasinan); Rodolfo Corpuz (Cagayan); Ambrocio Dela Rosa Juan Jr. (Isabela); Jessie Santiago (Quirino); Janet Arbuleda (Nueva Vizcaya); Sotero Gapac, Rodolfo Abeleda and Victorino David (Nueva Ecija); Johnny Gatuz and Danny Mateo (Bulacan); Joselito Tibayan (Cavite); Gerry Mandac (Oriental Mindoro); Jesus Carlos (Occidental Mindoro); Monte Manalo (Batangas); Florencio Sera and Angelito Mendoza (Quezon); Henry Rafael (Albay); Felizardo Ramos Jr. (Camarines Sur); Helen Cullo (Aklan); Leonila Sugarol (Cebu); Romeo Mazo (Leyte); Temoteo Ardiente (Misamis Occidental); Larry Lomosad (Zamboanga del Norte); Jonard Octat and Rubisper Udal (Bukidnon); Rolly Bagona Sr. (Davao Oriental); Julie Tirando (Davao del Sur); Johnny Tolentino (South Cotabato); Dominic Paclibar (North Cotabato); Larissa Barlisan (Agusan del Sur); and Ruben Ragas (Agusan del Norte).
In her speech during the event, Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate’s committee on agriculture and food and the event’s guest of honor, emphasized the role of smallholder farmers in food security.
“They may be called smallholder farmers but they truly play a big role in ensuring food security for all Filipinos. They comprise 85% of the entire farm structure of the world,” she said.
Calling on farmers, Villar added: “Kaya sa mga nanditong smallholder farmers, pati na rin sa mga bago at nagsisimulang farmers, do not underestimate yourselves. Napaka-importante ng inyong kontribusyon na ginagampanan at gagampanan sa ating bansa, pagdating ng panahon hindi ang mga corporate farms ang aasahan nating magpakain sating lahat kundi ang maliliit na magsasaka.”
“We want to express our gratitude to the Filipino farmers who have supported us all these years by celebrating their success, innovativeness, entrepreneurial spirit, and hard work. Their remarkable qualities uplift not just the lives of their families but also the whole local vegetable industry,” said Henk Hermans, general manager of East-West Seed Philippines.
"Through their stories, we also want to inspire others, especially the youth, to engage in farming and become successful vegetable farmers," Hermans added.
During the event, East-West Seed also recognized 35 outstanding distributors for being the company's loyal partners in improving the lives of Filipino farmers. (PR)