FFD 2024 Ugmad

For VSU’s 100th Anniversary, the university widened the scope of its search for the UGMAD Awardees to the entire Visayas region.

This annual gathering of farmers and fisherfolk is a tradition of VSU to award the unsung heroes in agriculture and aquaculture in the Eastern Visayas. However, since this year is the Centennial Anniversary of VSU, the selection for the outstanding farmers and fisherfolk was expanded to include Regions 6 and 7, respectively.

In the Visayas-Wide UGMAD Awards, VSU chose 7 winners for the individual category and 2 winners for the association category.

This year’s UGMAD Outstanding Farmer-Entrepreneur received a PhP 100,000 cash prize alongside the two association category winners. Meanwhile, the individual category winners each received Php 75,000 cash incentives.


Here are the inspiring stories of VSU’s 2024 UGMAD Awardees!

Outstanding Vegetable Farmer


Mrs. Elisa Serano is an exceptional vegetable farmer who has a heart of gold.

She started farming in 2015 with 500 square meters of land and later expanded to 8,000 square meters, with the help of the Baybay City Mayor, Jose Carlo Cari, through providing training, input supplies, and support.

During the pandemic, she shared vegetables with the frontliners and neighbors who struggled to make ends meet – her way to alleviate concerns about their children who are living away. In addition, she receives training on good agricultural practices (GAP) to ensure food safety and quality vegetables for consumers. 

Perseverance, patience, and effort are the attributes Mrs.Serano would continuously possess to improve their farming. She is immensely proud to be a farmer, and so are her children. 

Outstanding Farmer-Entrepreneur


Owner of Joetless Organic Farm, which promotes zero-waste.  

The “Zero-Waste in the Farm: Refuse, Reuse, Recycle” concept took off in 2000 with his wife, and the movement has been propelled forward through training Indigenous People (IP), Persons with Disabilities (PWD), inmates, and less fortunate individuals to promote sustainability in farming while bettering lives.  

The objectives of his farm are to share organic technologies with the farmers and community, train students to go organic, and generate employment for the locals. 

He believes that the opportunities in agriculture are endless because you may pursue farming no matter your profession. He advises everyone to explore, think outside the box, and make a change, emphasizing that farming is important as it sustains human life and provides a future for people. 

“Food safety and food security are my priorities!”

Outstanding Fisherfolk


Dela Peña finds joy in raising tilapia! 

He started raising tilapia by applying through the Land Government Unit (LGU) program in Bayawan. Looking back during the COVID-19 pandemic, he found it difficult to provide food for the tilapia, and from that, the idea of feeding it with water spinach, snow cabbage, jute leaves, and madre de agua started.

He finds delight and contentment in raising tilapia since it improves their quality of life. This has also helped his children finish their studies. 

They encourage their co-fisherfolk to never give up and always trust their capabilities because these elements will lead them to success.

Outstanding Rootcrop Farmer


A farmer with extraordinary prowess in producing root crops as a major source of income. 

One of the challenges she experienced in farming was the unprecedented calamities that destroyed her farm, yet her resilience has made her tough enough to continue farming. 

Her journey started in 2021; her major crops are cassava and sweet potatoes, but she also ventures to plant peanuts and sweet corn. 

With rising expenses, the LGU of Baybay City eases its difficulties by providing free plowing and input supplies. Also, Philrootcrops generates knowledge and equips them with training to increase their yield. 

Outstanding Young Agri-Preneur


This young agri-preneur from Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, is proof that you can start from scratch and eventually climb your way to success.

GL Organic Mushroom Farm was first established in 2019. Despite having no prior knowledge of mushroom cultivation, Mr. Gerardino immediately took an interest and seized the opportunity to profit from it after his uncle and younger brother introduced it. He also utilized what he had learned in his electrical engineering college degree in the implementation and design of his farm.

Mr. Gerardino goes beyond what mushrooms are capable of. For example, his best-selling product is crispy mushroom – a fried snack with various flavors. He also fosters community involvement and practices recycling mushrooms for vermicast production.

Outstanding GAP Certified Farm


Farm manager of Apoy Benit Cacao Agricultural Farm, located in Brgy. Obrero, Calbayog City, Samar. He began planting cacao trees in 2016 and his farm became GAP certified last December 2023.

To achieve GAP certification, Mr. Tajo ticked all the boxes for appropriate agricultural practices. First, he ensured that all workers wore safety gear whenever they were near the farm to prevent contamination. He also maintained separation between the work area and machinery, prioritized cleanliness on the farm, and conducted daily checkups to ensure the cacao beans remained safe and undamaged during fermentation. 

Most importantly, he emphasized building strong and healthy relationships between his workers and the community as a whole, ensuring their safety and well-being all the time. 

Rainforest Hero


He believes that planting native trees is part of his legacy, while also emphasizing just how important it is to the environment.

His farm first started with cultivating rice fields, then shifted to vegetables, and then the idea of tree planting emerged for Mr. Subingsubing during the pandemic as he noticed heavy quarrying in his area. Recognizing the necessity for sustainable practices, he understood that native trees are essential to replenishing the water table. His goal is for the area to become self-sufficient in water, reducing dependence on external sources such as their barangay or irrigation systems. 

Mr. Subingsubing hopes that future generations will value these native trees, as they are nearing extinction, and will also recognize their importance for long-term sustainability. 

Outstanding Farmer Association


Managed by Mr. Jeremias Medalla, Calaguise Agricultural Cooperative was legally established as a cooperative in October 2018 after operating as an association for 16 years since its inception in 2002. Mr. Medalla's dedication to his fellow farmers motivated him to assume responsibility for managing the cooperative. 

Under Mr. Medalla's leadership as chairman, the cooperative's income from their vegetable farm experienced a steady increase. In addition to its farm, the cooperative also engages in various projects and businesses, including a vermicomposting facility and a merchandise store for its members.

The members of the cooperative wholeheartedly support Mr. Medalla's initiatives for the benefit of the farm and the cooperative. The Department of Agriculture (DOA) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) are just some of the cooperative's primary partners. Upon receiving a certificate of registration and accreditation from the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), the farm is poised to become a learning site or a farm school soon.

Outstanding Fisherfolk Association


From 21 members when it first started as an association to over 150 members currently, the Bayawan Tuna Producers Association won this year’s Outstanding Fisherfolk Association award for its advancement in the realm of fisheries management and cohesiveness in the association. 

Their tuna production is one of Bayawan City’s best, constantly producing fresh tuna on the market. Their local government units also helped the association further strengthen its safety and competence, such as by ensuring the fishermen are taken care of while they operate at sea through holding training and installing vessel monitoring units. 

Because of the fishermen’s hard work and dedication, their income doubles, and the number of members of the association increases.

[Thumbnail graphics by Kenneth Mercado | UGMAD Awardees’ photos and graphics are courtesy of Gabriel Cillado]

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