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MIMAROPA farm learning sites boost cooperation

PUERTO PRINCESA, PALAWAN. Agriculture learning sites in the MIMAROPA Region (Region 4B: Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) have banded together to further boost cooperation and exchange ideas in an effort to strengthen the Philippine government’s partners in promoting agriculture.

The regional event also saw the election of a new set of officials who will steer the organization in the interim.

The formation of an organization of farm schools and learning sites in the region was among the highlights of the 2020 Regional Learning Sites in Agriculture and Schools for Practical Agriculture (LSA-SPA) Summit at Yamang Bukid Farm in Barangay Bacungan, Puerto Princesa City last 24-28 February 2020.

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The new officers of the alliance of MIMAROPA Learning Site for Agriculture and Schools for Practical Agriculture are sworn into office.

Yamang Bukid Farm Vice President for Community Affairs, Bro. George Maria, was chosen as the new president of the 40-plus member alliance.

“Our mission is to help others, especially the youth, to learn and love farming. This is a huge responsibility for me,” said Bro. Maria, 23.

Yamang Bukid Farm Vice President for Community Affairs, Bro. George Maria (center), was chosen as the new president of the 40-plus member alliance.

“As a young farmer entrusted by LSAs in MIMAROPA, it is with all humility for me to work with the inspiration founded by the farming schools ahead of us. It is my joy to cooperate with the leadership of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) under the mandate of the Department of Agriculture in its various programs aimed at attaining food security and uplifting the lives of our farmers,” the former seminarian-turned-farmer added.

Maria said farm schools should not be seen as a diploma mill for young people who want to get a national competency certification even without learning anything.

The association was widely supported by farm owners in the region.

UNITED MARINDUQUE. DA-ATI MIMAROPA Center Director Pat Barrientos (center) poses with learning sites for agriculture execs and owners from Marinduque: Heidi Guevarra (leftmost) of Guevara’s Farm, Doming dela Cruz (2nd from L) of DMDC Farm, Romulo Recaña (4th from L) of Lui’s More in One Farm, and Rafael Seño (rightmost) of AGREA Estate Farm.

Randy Eusebio, a 57-year old owner of a 21-hectare farm in Oriental Mindanao hopes the group would help empower small farm owners and upstart farm schools across the region.

“I expect to see sharing of ideas, knowledge and technology among the member-farms, and unity among us in our resolve to strengthen the agriculture sector,” Eusebio said.

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Elected as Vice President was Derwin Evangelista of Longfield ALC in Oriental Mindoro. Rosario Clemente, of Oriental Mindoro’s Lasquety Farms was chosen as Treasurer. Roger Rada of Rada Eco-Farm (Oriental Mindoro) as Treasurer.

AGREA’s Communications and PR Director and Training Director of the AGREA Farm School and Assessment Center, Rafael Constantino Seño, was elected and sworn in as the group’s Auditor.

Elected Public Information Officers (PIOs) were Randy Balderas of Mamburao Integrated Farms for Oriental Mindoro, Heidi Guverra of Guevara’s Farm for Marinduque, and Porfirio Diaz for Palawan.

AGREA’s Communications and PR Director and Training Director of the AGREA Farm School and Assessment Center, Rafael Constantino Seño (3rd from L), was elected and sworn in as Auditor.

For DA-ATI in Mimaropa, farming schools and agri-learning sites are in demand because the government is setting aside over P700 million yearly for scholarships and other assistance to those who want to study agriculture through farm schools and learning sites.

Pat Andrew Barrientos, DA-ATI MIMAROPA Center Director, said the agency is eyeing to accredit at least three farming schools or learning sites per municipality throughout the country. Currently though, there are just about 30 of such institutions nationwide, well below the actual need.

Pat Andrew Barrientos, DA-ATI MIMAROPA Center Director

Among the latest to get the ATI nod as learning site is Maria’s Yamang Bukid Farm, a 20-plus hectare farm known for its sunflowers, organically-grown vegetables, and herbal plants. The farm employs nearly 300 people, 90 percent of whom were former illegal loggers and wildlife poachers in Barangay Bacungan.

A huge incentive to farmers whose farm will become a learning site is a monthly revenue of upwards to P140,000 per batch of at least 25 scholars. In spite of this windfall, President George Maria urged his fellow farm school advocates to not lose sight of their bigger role to help the farmers.

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“I challenge [every farmer] to encourage all farming schools to live as one team with a mission of becoming factories of dignified farmers who can develop into agripreneurs,” he said.

Juan Lim
Yamang Bukid Farm
Original Publication 10:15 AM, 1 March 2020
Updated by the AGREA Team 4:00 PM, 3 March 2020

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