“PAGLABAS ko po dito, magagamit ko ang mga natutunan ko sa pagtatanim para makapamuhay ako nang maayos.”
Forty-year old “Kamote” relates the benefits of the DAxDOJ Reformation Initiative for Sustainable Environment for Food Security Project or DA RISE to Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) like himself, during the harvest festival of the 4.5-hectare (ha) demonstration farm at Iwahig Prison and Penal Colony on December 7, 2023.
He explains that Phase 1 of the program, which began in July, trained them to be responsible individuals and productive farmers. After a five-month hands-on training, he’s confident that he will have a better life after prison.
“Kamote” is one of 70 inmates trained by the Department of Agriculture and partners from the private sector on efficient farm systems for the production of rice and various vegetables. He says he enjoys doing farm work.
“Imbes na mag-isip po ako ng kung anu-ano, dito nalilibang na ako, naihahanda ko pa ang sarili ko paglabas ko,” he said while eagerly awaiting release.
The RISE Project is among the government initiatives towards the reformation of PDLs. It also aims to contribute to the food security agenda of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.
In a message read on behalf of Agriculture Secretary Francsico P. Tiu Laurel, Bureau of Plant Industry Director Gerald Glenn Panganiban said the harvest festival is a celebration of the fruits of labor of the PDLs, as well as a collaboration of the Department of Agriculture, Department of Justice, Bureau of Corrections, and the private sector.
“Lahat tayo ay nagkakaisa upang masiguro na may pagkain ang pamilyang Pilipino,” Laurel said adding that the DA is keen on modernizing Philippine agriculture from production to processing, as well as minimizing imports.
The Secretary added that under his leadership, DA will adapt modern innovations and technologies to increase production and improve prices of various agricultural commodities.
“We will reform and prepare you for your re-integration into society. You are now farmers para sa masaganang bagong Pilipinas,” he said.
Panganiban thanked the private sector for its continuous support to DA’s projects and emphasized that the partnership has led to successful and meaningful collaborations towards entrepreneurship and modern farming technology.
“Hindi po kaya ng gobyerno ang lahat. Let us work together,” he stressed.
Panganiban also encouraged PDLs to embrace technology and innovation being promoted by the department.
“Let us expand our production areas and modernize our farming system towards sustainable food production,” he said.
The private seed companies, which include Mench Fil-Am Corporation, FA Greenseeds Corporation, SL Agritech Corporation Enviroscope Synergy, Ramgo Seeds, International Company, Enza Zaden Philippines, have fully supported the RISE Project since its kick-off. They also vowed to remain steadfast partners of the national government.
“We will continue to provide support and assistance, as we share your vision of a food secure nation,” the seed companies said.
The second phase of the RISE Project under the 2024 development plan will cover a total of 500 hectares of Iwahig’s property and will include cashew, corn and rice production, a tilapia pond, and areas for livestock raising and pasture. PR