A total of 72 awardees were recognized in the awarding ceremonies recently held at Venezia Hotel in Legazpi City for agricultural extension workers (AEWs) and local farmer technicians (LFTs) covering the Southern Luzon Cluster composed of the Bicol, Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon (Calabarzon) and Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan (Mimaropa) regions.
Of this total number, DA Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas here on Wednesday said 32 were from Bicol, 28 from Mimaropa and 12 from Calabarzon.
The AEWs-awardees from Bicol included Rosalinda Belodo, Leticia Quian, Sholenor Bongapat, Corazon Ginete, Jonel Llagas, Meden Castor, Eduardo Macasaet, Edelmira Buena , Elsie Frial, Nilo Elatico, Jennifer Dajac, Prescilla Ferrer and Merlinda Daep -- all from Albay province.
Others were Noel Ernacio, Carmen Lladones, Vernon Haboc, Eduardo Cerdena, Felizardo Grajo, Joan Janoras, Marvin Guray and Eric Gloriane -- all from the province of Sorsogon; Virginia Ablaneda and Edna Aguila -- Camarines Norte and Milagros Lomeda -- Camarines Sur.
Awarded as Outstanding LFTs were Edgar Pasebre and Rodolfo Tuanqui Jr. of Polangui, Albay; Cenon Rull and Ramon Gaudiel of this municipality and Ramon Pidoc of Camarines Norte, Bragas said.
Also given awards were Marilyn Quiñones and Alfredo Mariscotes Jr., municipal agriculturists of Castilla, Sorsogon and Polangui, Albay, respectively, for their remarkable contributions in making their municipalities as among the country’s top rice producers during the recent years, he said.
Castilla, a small, sleepy town, produced a good quantity of rice, enough to stand up for the municipality into being one of the country’s top achievers in the production of the staple grain in the past two years.
It has been responsible for a production increment of 18.46 percent in 2014 over 2013 and a yield increment of 17.69 percent over 2012.
The municipality also exceeded its 2014 production target of 6,341.66 metric tons (MT) by 273.5 percent as it attained a production volume of 18,985.77 MT.
With these, the municipality was the only in Bicol that made it, along 14 other municipalities and cities nationwide that won the DA 2014 Rice Achievers Awards given last March 26 at the Newport Performing Arts Theater at Resorts World in Pasay City.
The same award that provides a Php1 million in cash incentive from the DA was also won by the municipality in 2013 based on similar achievements in rice production judged according to incremental rice harvest and average yield per hectare over the previous year levels; increase if any over targets; amount of budget devoted to rice projects and initiatives; number of farmers benefited; and degree of rice seed utilization.
Polangui, on the other hand, was also among the national Rice Achiever awardees for the municipal categories in 2013, also for its great contribution to the region’s RSS status being enjoyed until now, according to Bragas.
“We are proud of these people in the local rice production sector as they are behind the region’s RSS achievements recorded at 116.68 percent during the whole of 2014,” he said.
This year-round production rate is equivalent to around 1.5 million MTs for a surplus of nearly 17 percent based on the regional rice consumption of around 824,000 MT.
It also improved Bicol’s ranking from sixth in 2013 to fifth last year among the country’s 16 rice-producing regions, Bragas said.
He meanwhile explained that that the recent awarding ceremonies for AEWs and LFTs were held in Legazpi City, unlike in the past that it was done along with the national recognition rites for outstanding provincial and municipal government units in Manila to avoid an overcrowded and very long affair due to the big number of awardees.
It was also to give equal prominence to the AEWs and LFTs, Bragas said.
The Rice Achievers Awards are conferred on local government units, AEWs and LFTs that significantly contributed in the effective and successful implementation of the Agri-Pinoy Rice Program which is one of the banner components of the DA’s agenda mainly concerned in rice farming and uplifting the lives of Filipino farmers.
It is in line with the government's strategy to meet RSS wherein Pres. Aquino emphasizes the need for an intensified information campaign and social marketing to encourage producers, consumers and policymakers to help achieve such goal.
Such goal requires a sustained and nationwide campaign to boost farmers' morale and motivate them to adopt technologies to further improve farm productivity and encourage the general public to be responsible rice consumers are necessary to complement the government's efforts to achieve RSS, according to the President.
The Agri-Pinoy Rice Program, guided by the principles of the Agrikulturang Pilipino (Agri-Pinoy) framework, plays a key role in the Food Staples Sufficiency Program, the central focus of the country's food security policy from 2011 to 2016 and beyond.
With the vision of a food-secure society where farmers enjoy decent and rising standards of living, the FSSP 2011-2016 aims to achieve self-sufficiency in food staples.
Self-sufficiency means satisfying domestic requirements for food, seeds, processing, and feeds through domestic production. (by Danny Calleja, PNA)