26 years of highland agriculture: A land reflecting its light

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By Robert L. Domoguen

Mountain Light

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


SILVER plus one, a capstone to a prayer,
The beginning of a journey north,
A direction of determination towards home,
In the middle of Luzon, a mass of mountainscapes,
Where the four winds meet...

The prayer continues with this step taken,
On to our golden years,
A house made of colors – sunsets and dawns,
Streaked clouds, with the winds breath,
Yellowing harvest in the seasons,
Ripening fruits all seasons, bright skins,
Every live thing grows,
Lovers under our skies like leaves,
Glowing in hues, joyful women with their tantalizing smiles,
Cordillera, under challenging conditions,
Still an evolving land of reflected light.

****

We pause from our regular fare to highlight in this column, the 26th anniversary of the Department of Agriculture-Cordillera Administrative Regional Office anniversary that culminated last July 4, 2014.
As we say in the DA, “this is the best anniversary ever the best is yet to come.” Indeed it was, even as we look ahead for a better celebration next year. This year we count and look back to our achievements last year. Here follows are the highlight of our accomplishments together with our partners, to include the local government units (LGUs), farmers and farmers associations, and other private and public institutions in 2013.
Since 2012, the DA-RFO-CAR feels proud with the increased number of regional and national Gawad Saka Achievers, among the ranks of our farmers, fisherfolks, farm families, and LGU/private institutional partners.

The Gawad Saka is the most prestigious agricultural award given by the Department of Agriculture to achievers in this sector. The regional awardees are automatically eligible to compete in the national search for Gawad Saka performers. The winners will get their recognition trophies, certificates and cash awards from the President himself.

In many ways, the Gawad Saka Annual Search validates the efforts of the DA and its partners in promoting agricultural and rural development. This year's search in the Cordillera is one of the most participated and supported in the region, a continuing show of confidence and faith in the DA-LGU partnership and the sector's ability to perform under our challenged conditions. There are 15 winners, 7 under the individual categories and 8 under the Institutional categories. It is a great harvest and we pray, all the regional winners will make it as national champions.

Aside from their plaque of recognition, the winners under the individual categories and their prizes are: Jefferson Laruan, La Trinidad, Benguet, PhP 30,000; Outstanding Agricultural Entrepreneur, Romeo Kimbungan, La Trinidad, Benguet, PhP 30,000; Outstanding Fisherfolk, Teotimo Guzon, Pudtol Apayao, PhP 30,000; Outstanding Corn farmer, Artoro Yongoyong, Aguinaldo, Ifugao, PhP 30,000; Outstanding High Value Crops Farmer ((Fruits), Benjamin Pinos-an, Barlig, Mt. Province, PhP 30,000; Outstanding Small Animal Raiser, Jacqueline Astudillo, Bucay, Abra, PhP 30,000; and Outstanding Farmer Adopting Rice-based Integrated Farming System, Bonifacio Dumagay, Pinukpuk, Kalinga, PhP 30,000.

The winners under the Institutional Categories are: Outstanding PAFC, Benguet PAFC, PhP 50,000; Outstanding Barangay Food Terminal (LGU-managed), B:GU Lubon, Tadian, Mt. Prov., PhP 50,000; Outstabding Baranagay Food Terminal (Non-LGU Managed), Gusaran MPC, Kabayan, Benguet, PhP 50,000; Outstanding Farm Family, WWarlito Ventura and family,, Tabuk City, PhP 30,000; Outstanding Small Farmer Organization, Ubaya Food Processors Organization, Inc. Besao, Mt. Province, PhP 50,000; Outstanding Young Farmer Organization, Masla Hoyohoy 4H Club, Tadian, Mountain Province, Php 50,000; Outstanding MAFC, Sagada MAFC, Mountain Province, PhP 50,000;; and Outstanding RIC, Tuga RIC, Tabuk City, Kalinga, PhP 50,000.

Food security begins in the mind, heart and values of an individual. Sustaining food security now and the future considers the young. The discipline, attitude, experience and skills must be in their hands.

For which cause, this program Gulayan sa Paaralan has been enthusiastically implemented and promoted through our schools spearheaded by the DepEd CAR. We are grateful to our teachers, elementary and school pupils, Parents Teachers Associations, barangay and municipal officials and agricultural technicians for their cooperation in making the program succeed in their areas.

In partnership with the DepEd CAR, the DA-RFO-CAR implements the Gulayan sa Paaralan Program. For this year, the search for the best Gulayan sa Paaralan yielded five top achievers in the Plot Garden Category and five top achievers in the Container Garden Category.

The top five achievers under the plot garden category with their prices are as follows: Callagdao Elementary School, Tabuk City, Kalinga, PhP 100,000.00; Sta. Maria National High School Extension (PhP 50,000.00); Balugan National High School, Sagada, Mountain Province (PhP 40,000.00); Magabbangon Elementary School, Tabuk City, Kalinga (PhP 30,000.00); and, Lagawa Elementary School, Bauko, Mt. Province (PhP 20,000.00).

The top five performers under the Container Garden Category are: Lindawan East Elementary School, Baguio City (PhP 100,000.00); Dalmacio Miguel Primary School, Atok, Benguet (PhP 50,000,00); Otucan Norte Elementary School, Bauko, Mt. Province (PhP 40,000.00); Tindo Basanio Elementary School Buguias, Benguet (PhP 30,000.00); and, Don Mariano Marcos Elementary School, Baguio City (PhP 20,000.00).

This year also saw the DA launching yet another award in in its campaign to promote organic agriculture in the Country. In the Cordillera, the DA-RFO-CAR has given plaques of recognition and cash awards to individual, family and institutional practitioners of organic agriculture, as follows: Province of Ifugao, Outstanding Province with a cash prize of PhP 500,00; Municipality of La Trinidad, Benguet, Outstanding Municipal LGU with a cash prize of PhP 300,00; LaTOP MPC, Outstanding Cooperative, with a cash prize of PhP 100,000; Valerio P. Ramos, Outstanding Small Farmer with a cash prize of PhP 50,000; Camat Family, Outstanding Organic Farming Family with a cash prize of PhP 50,000; Rowena P. Gonnay, Outstanding Agricultural Extension Worker (Pasil, Kalinga) with a cash Prize of PhP 15,000; and, Berto A Bayeng, Outstanding Municipal Agriculture Focal Person (Tublay, Benguet) with a cash prize of PhP 15,000.

As 2013 unfurled, we also saw the Province of Kalinga and the City of Tabuk win in the national search for best LGUs in rice production. The Province of Kalinga won twice, while the City of Tabuk won successively four times.

Even as we rejoice with the accomplishments of our farmers, our joys are multiplied with the DA-RFO-CAR being acknowledged as one of two offices in the Family with outstanding performance to receive performance bonus. There are more to speak about in our journey in over two decades but space does not allow them written in this instance.

So let me just wish the DA-RFO-CAR, a happy silver plus one. May our journey continue to yield lessons, experiences and glad tidings that make the Cordillera, a land reflecting light for quality survival in the Philippines under challenging conditions.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 09, 2014.

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