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The backbones of the agricultural economy of Eastern Visayas—the farmers—were given recognition by the Visayas State University (VSU) for their exemplary performances in their respective endeavors.  The University always spares a special day to the farmers of Region 8 dubbed as “Farmers and Fisherfolk’s Day” as it celebrates annually its foundation day.

On August 11, 2015, four individuals and one farmers’ association received their respective awards from VSU through its President, Dr. Jose L. Bacusmo, together with the Leyte Provincial Governor, Hon. Leopoldo Dominico L. Petilla, and the mayor of the City of Baybay, Hon. Carmen L. Cari, on the occasion of the 91st VSU Founding Anniversary at the VSU Convention Hall with the theme “Reinvigorating Agriculture for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development.” 

Mrs. Priscilla A. Espinazo of Barangay Uson, Caibiran, Biliran is the 2015 (Ugmad Award) Outstanding Farmer-Entrepreneur “For her innovativeness, hard-work, concern for the environment, faith in God and determination to increase productivity and profitability in her farm. She initially started tilling three hectares which eventually grew to a five-hectare farmstead owing to her entrepreneurship and diligence. A farmer with a knack for planning and entrepreneurship, she is able to motivate and persuade her children to work in the farm in which four of them graduated from the Visayas State University. She shows a remarkable concern for the environment by adopting organic farming and ecologically-sound pest management practices. She is also active in their community by advocating transparency, highest form of responsibility and accountability, hard-work for a fruitful and wise living. As an environmentalist, she believes that her duty is to cause the Earth to bloom and be a good steward of God’s creation.  Her farm, which is so beautifully landscaped, displayed her vibrant spirit in making it springs with abundant produce. The mixture of vegetables, ornamentals, fruit trees, animals and farm amenities qualified it to become an Agro-Tourism Farm.  Mrs. Espinazo is an outstanding example of the new breed of successful woman farmer-entrepreneur who can prove that farming is a highly rewarding vocation.”

In her acceptance message, she encouraged her fellow farmers to have a strong faith in God in everything that they do. 

Mrs. Espinazo received a plaque from VSU and a cash award of PhP20,000 from the provincial government of Leyte through Gov. Leopoldo Dominico L. Petilla.

VSU and the Energy Development Corporation (PNOC-EDC)accorded the 2015 Outstanding Vegetable Farmer Award to Mr. Patricio B. Bucal of Barangay San Isidro, Baybay City, Leyte.  Mr. Bucal was cited “For exemplifying innovativeness, hard-work and determination to make the one-and-a-half hectares of tenanted land a productive vegetable farm.  Concerned about the environment, he started abandoning conventional farming practices and adopted an organic farming system. His hard-work and good entrepreneurial skills have brought him enough profits to acquire additional farm plots.  His success in vegetable production enabled him to send his children to school. Two of them are presently enrolled at the Visayas State University taking up BS in Agricultural Engineering and BS in Agribusiness. He is also an active member of the Baybay Farmers’ Association (BAFA).  Mr. Bucal shifted to organic vegetable production in which he believes would help preserve the environment and most of all improve the well-being of vegetable consumers.”

Mr. Bucal received a plaque and a cash award of PhP15,000 from the Energy Development Corporation  through its Vice President, Engr. Manuel C. Paete. 

On the other hand, VSU and the Univet Nutrition and Animal Health Care Company (UNAHCO) presented the 2015 Outstanding Livestock Farmer to Engr. Eric C. Codilla of Cogon, Ormoc City “For his innovative and environment-friendly farming practices that transformed his small broiler production venture into a huge broiler farm. He adopted an alternative farming in growing his broilers and found out that organic chicken production is the wisest choice to grow them because he fully understood that using synthetic vitamins and antibiotics will leave residues to the meat making it unsafe for one’s health.  He spearheaded the adoption of the technology in Ormoc City since 2010 and fearlessly made his farm as a demo for other broiler raisers to see its effects and advantages. His decision was fully rewarded for having a fowl-free odor farm, healthy broilers and healthy customers. His poultry products are fully declared by the NMIS as toxic-free.  He is now formulating his own feeds for his broilers, swine and Peking ducks which make his farm a destination of agri-related field tours not only in Region 8 but also from other provinces of the country.  Engr. Codilla, a Civil Engineerby profession, is a farmer-entrepreneur who has shown that even with a different professional background, one can succeed in poultry farming which makes him a good example to other farmers.”

Together with his wife, Mrs. Julida Codilla, Engr. Codilla received a plaque and products worth PhP15,000 from UNAHCO through Mr. Glenn L. Ibañez, the Technical Director.

The University also presented the very first Outstanding Fisherfolk Award to Mr. Artemio F. Docdoc of Barangay Tinago, Tomas Opus, Southern Leyte “For his innovativeness, resourcefulness and eagerness to raise excellent quality supply of milkfish in the market and enable him to operate fish cages as an outstanding livelihood project.  His eleven modules fish cages enabled him to harvest more than 60,000 kilos milkfish within four to five-month time and when converted into cash it would amount to millions of pesos. This venture has generated employment to other people in the community which eventually uplifted their standard of living as caretakers and fish vendors.  As chair of the Agriculture and Fisheries Committee of the Local Government Unit of Tomas Opus, he is able to encourage the residents in the coastal barangays to preserve their coastal waters by not throwing garbage in the ocean which is evident by their crystal blue waters. Also, they are now planning to rehabilitate their mangrove areas by planting mangrove tree species. He also encourages their barrio folks to go into mariculture as a source of income.  Hon. Docdoc sustained his mariculture business as a steady source of income for more than four years now. He also believes that one should be a risk-taker when entering into this kind of business venture. He plans to expand his fish cages, culture groupers, and other species of greater economic value. His love for mariculture encourages him to improve more on his trade as mariculturist.”

He received a plaque and a check worth PhP15,000 from VSU.

The Farmers’ Entrepreneurs Association (FEA) of Barangay Iberan, Salcedo, Eastern Samar is the 2015 Outstanding Farmers’ Association.  The group is recognized “For its outstanding leadership, unity, hard-work, dedication, commitment and entrepreneurship as an organization which helped raise their productivity and incomes even with marginal resources and minimal initial support from the government.  Despite poverty and calamity, FEA has demonstrated resiliency and aggressiveness to overcome such problems. They were able to encourage their members to put up certain amount of money as their savings in the Association.  They are now having more than a million-peso worth of assets and income from their store. Aside from operating a grocery store, FEA has established a nursery where they can propagate premium tree species and fruit trees for sale through the adoption of sound environmental practices such as the use of organic fertilizers, pesticides and soil conservation technologies. In addition, good marketing practices, internal capital formation, individual savings, and organizational development trainings have fostered strong member’s participation and group cohesion.  With 198 members, the FEA’s financial assets have grown up to more than a million pesos and various external partners who have seen their organizational potentials have started to provide support to their programs and projects.  The FEA’s success is an example of how farmers’ organizations with good leadership, organizational cohesion, hard-work, dedication, passion, viable income-generating projects, and strong government support can be a potent force for rural development. The FEA is an outstanding model for aspiring farming and fishing groups and communities, which capitalizes only on their fortitude and unity to make the best of their marginal resource base.  Lately, FEA has demonstrated that even with natural and man-made calamities, a strong organization is able to rise from their devastation and be productive again through unity and cooperation.”

The plaque and a cash award of PhP20,000 from Cebu Merlion Traders, Inc.were received by the FEA President, Mr. Luis Barayong, in the presence of Salcedo Mayor, Hon. Melchor Melgar.

Moreover, all finalists in the different categories received certificates from VSU.

Spearheaded by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Extension (OVPRE) with Dr. Othello B. Capuno as the Vice President, through the Office of the Director for Extension headed by Prof. Efren B. Saz, the Ugmad Award is VSU’s way of giving recognition to the outstanding farmers among the nominees from all over Region VIII.

The 2015 Ugmad Award Outstanding Farmer-Entrepreneur, Outstanding Vegetable Farmer, Outstanding Livestock Farmer, Outstanding Fisherfolk, and Outstanding Farmers’ Entrepreneurs Association awardees were selected based on the following criteria: Innovativeness (30%), Productivity (30%), Community Leadership (20%), and Environmental Concerns (20%), for a total of 100%.

This year’s Ugmad Search Committee is composed of Prof. E. B. Saz, chairperson; Dr. Alfredo B. Escasinas, Prof. Reny G. Gerona, Dr. Milagros C. Bales, Dr. Humberto R. Monters, Jr., and Ms. Adelina O. Carreno, as members.  JFMBaldos

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