The Visayas State University through the Philippine Root Crops Research and Training Center (PhilRootcrops) continues to pursue inclusive development by facilitating extension projects that provide opportunity to conflict-affected areas. 

In partnership with the 52nd Infantry Battalion (52 IB Agila) of the Philippine Army together with the Fatima Multipurpose Cooperative, PhilRootcrops conducted a training program on root crop production held last month in a secluded community in Barangay Agsaman located in the town of Jipadpad, Eastern Samar.

This conflict-stricken community is a very remote and isolated place that can only be reached through a four-hour long walk from its nearest access road in Barangay Mabuhay.

It has been said that insurgency begins where the roads end.

Rebel groups have long occupied this community for the past years but this has recently been repossessed by the armed forces because many former rebels from this area have already surrendered as part of the national government’s persistent peace engagement and consultation especially among community people living in conflict-prone provinces.

In Eastern Visayas, the Philippine Army reported that there are a total of 33 rebel-infested areas in the region as of 2017 with the biggest concentration located within the Samar island.

One of the main barriers in peace efforts has always been anchored on the very difficult economic conditions experienced by people dwelling in remote communities.

Informed of this gap, the team of PhilRootcrops researchers and extension agents found it very fit to work with the Philippine Army to help them in providing livelihood opportunities to rebel returnees especially in making their respective communities economically productive.


With particular focus on sweetpotato and cassava production, PhilRootcrops Senior Agriculturist Dioscorro Bolatete trained more than 20 rebel returnees on the importance of using quality planting materials to improve farm yield and overall productivity.

The said community training also tackled the many viable food by-products developed by VSU researchers that are derived from both sweetpotato and cassava.

Each of the rebel returnees received cassava cuttings that were sourced from VSU root crop nursery that has been certified by the  Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI).

PhilRootcrops Deputy Director Marlon M. Tambis welcomes more similar engagements like this as the Center pushes for inclusive development especially in marginal communities all around the country.

“We are thankful to the Philippine Army and the Fatima Multipurpose Cooperative for including us in this initiative. This is a very fitting program so that we can target those areas that are economically-deprived while also mainstreaming the many potentials of root crops production in some of our underutilized upland communities here in our region,” Prof. Tambis said.

This engagement of PhilRootcrops with the Philippine Army is not the first time because a similar program was implemented in 2013 held in the remote areas of San Isidro and Calubian, Leyte. 

In this project, the Center introduced innovative technologies, quality varieties of root crops including other techniques to boost production of cassava and sweetpotato.

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