The WorldFish, an international research organization that harnesses fisheries and aquaculture to reduce hunger and poverty, spearheaded the launching of the coalition for abaca rehabilitation on February 2, 2015 at the Plenary Hall of the Southern Leyte State University (SLSU) in Sogod, Southern Leyte.  The coalition aims to help realize the hopes and dreams of farmers in rehabilitating the abaca farms in Maac and Mahayahay, and scale out to Maria Plana and Javier in Sogod, Southern Leyte.

 

The abaca coalition is composed of the academe (IPB-UP Los Baños, NARC and DDC-Visayas State University, and SLSU); government agencies (DOST-8, PCAARRD, PhilFIDA-8/PhilFIDA, DA-EVIARC-8, DA-BAR); private institutions (Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Eastern Visayas, and Cebu Gifts, Toys and Housewares Foundation, Inc.); media organizations (Philippine Federation of Rural Broadcasters, VSU DYDC-FM, DYSL); local government units (Municipality of Sogod, Office of the Provincial Agriculturist of Southern Leyte, the four pilot barangays of Sogod—Maac, Mahayahay, Maria Plana, and Javier); and the WorldFish that initiated in organizing the abaca coalition members through its Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS) program.

The launching program started with a prayer and welcome remarks by the Sangguniang Bayan Member of Sogod, Hon. Napoleon Regis, and the newly installed president of SLSU, Dr. Prose Ivy G. Yepes, respectively. The WorldFish regional director for Asia, Dr. Maripaz L. Perez, explained the partnership thrust of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), in which WorldFish is a member, and effective partnerships in the AAS program. She emphasized the importance of partnership of the coalition which will revive the abaca industry and alleviate poverty in the four pilot barangays of Sogod, Southern Leyte.

The Sogod Vice Mayor, Hon. Rufo C. Olo, presented the timeline of the abaca rehabilitation initiative to its coalition members who were introduced by Dr. Lily Ann D. Lando, WorldFish Productivity Initiative Leader and Country Communications Officer.  The coalition members also recited and echoed the coalition slogan, “Hayag ang ugma ta diha sa abaka (We have a bright future in abaca).”  An open forum with the media representatives followed in relation to the status of the abaca industry, why Sogod was chosen as the pilot site, how to eradicate the abaca bunchy top virus that caused the dwindling of abaca industry, etc.

Also present during the launching ceremony were Engr. Petronilo B. Jabay, PhilFIDA OIC-Deputy Executive Director; Dr. Alicia E. Nicart, Director of the Philippine Information Agency of Region 8; and Engr. Edgardo M. Esperancilla, DOST-8 Regional Director, who gave the closing remarks, with his staff Ms. Mae Anne D. Reyes, Senior Science Research Specialist.

A motorcade around Sogod with the coalition members was also conducted.  The launching program wound up at the Covered Court of Barangay Maac where abaca seedlings from VSU-NARC were distributed to the abaca farmers of the four pilot barangays.

 The VSU personnel who were present during the launching were: Dr. Feliciano G. Sinon, OIC-Director of the National Abaca Research Center (NARC), together with Dr. Luz O. Moreno, Ms. Jedess Miladel N. Salomon, and a research assistant; and Dr. Christina A. Gabrillo, Head of the Department of Development Communication (DDC), with Mr. Ruel T. Bugnos, DDC graduate teaching assistant.

Just recently, Dr. Moreno and Dr. Gabrillo’s projects in support to the abaca rehabilitation in Sogod, So. Leyte were approved for implementation this year which will be funded by the WorldFish.  Christina A. Gabrillo/DDC