OCCIDENTAL MINDORO, May 04, 2021 – Department of Agriculture (DA) Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Director Myer G. Mula’s visit to Occidental Mindoro highlights the success of associations and paved the way to further improve the organization and the program’s sustainability in the province.
As SAAD’s brand of development requires mutual participation, a one-on-one talk with the program chief sheds light on the ones behind the organizations’ progress. The field implementers – SAAD’s Area Coordinators – are at the facade of the projects in Occidental Mindoro.
Area Coordinators in Occidental Mindoro
One of the pillars behind the accomplishments of any association is an Area Coordinator (AC). ACs are responsible for gathering and preparing the beneficiaries in receiving interventions by performing a community needs assessment, distributing interventions and supplemental materials to the associations, regular monitoring of the projects implemented, and coordinating with partners such as local government units and other organizations.
In Occidental Mindoro, the ACs belong to the youth sector (22-24 years old), which could provide flexibility and ease of skill transferability (Management Study Guide, n.d.).
Vilmar Robes shares that working as an AC in Magsaysay helped him build his confidence. The nature of the work which involves working with different people developed his interpersonal communication skills and built meaningful relationships with the community members, allowing him to perform his job more effectively.
Working alongside experts also serves as a learning experience for Robes. “Kapag may mga intervention kami kagaya na lamang sa Ready to Lay Chicken, ang mga binabahaging kaalaman ng mga beterinaryo sa tamang pag-aalaga ng mga manok sa mga benepisyaryo ay tinatandaan ko rin upang pwede ko itong magamit kapag nagkaroon na rin ako ng sarili kong manukan sa hinaharap.”
SAAD Abra de Ilog Area Coordinator Wily Adrian E. Vergara testifies that the project uplifts not only the beneficiaries but the implementers as well.
Imparting a valuable share to the development of a group requires extra commitment and contribution of ideas and other resources (Bernard van Heck, 2003). Being a Crop Science major, his practice has grown exponentially since he started working with the farmers. With his personal experiences in farming, backed by his degree, Adrian is able to participate and contribute ideas for the benefit of the farmers, as the latter share indigenous and practical methods in farming with him.
“Ang mga magulang ko ay mga magsasaka at nakatira kami sa kabukiran. [Natuto ako ng pagsasaka at ngayon,] mayroon na akong sariling sakahan ng palay at may mga alaga rin akong mga kambing at tilapia. Dahil dito, nagkaroon ako ng kaalaman sa kung ano ang mas makabubuti sa mga magsasakang makatatanggap ng interventions mula sa SAAD at nadadagdagan pa ang aking kaalaman.”
Adrian was one of SAAD’s lead speakers during the Training on Goat Production in December 2020 as preparation for the beneficiaries in receiving 40 heads of improved native goats that were awarded this April.
Director Mula’s influence on young ACs
Vilmar Robes, also a Crop Science graduate, observed how Dr. Mula listens to the farmers intently during his visit.
“He knows the farmers, and he is inquisitive, he knows farming, which complements his forward-thinking approach,” he said.
Seeing the SAAD Director in action himself, inspired Vilmar to learn more and to be able to do more for the beneficiaries.
The Director’s visit to the province also serves as a learning experience for ACs Jhonzell Panganiban (Paluan) and Ian Yadao (Santa Cruz). They witnessed how Dr. Mula acknowledged the associations’ strengths, such as the beneficiaries’ unity and initiative in voluntarily creating sheds and housing for their intervention and their points of improvement, such as in the aspect of proper monitoring.
They learned that discovering the strengths and weaknesses of the project implementation is a unique process that varies from one municipality to the other.
In addition, “initiative” helps build mutual trust between the farmers and the institution, demonstrating a sense of concern fosters the marginalized community’s belongingness to the wider scape of development.
SAAD and ATI join hands in strengthening farmers in Occidental Mindoro
Dr. Rosana “Ana” Mula (Deputy Director of Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) and Mr. Pat Andrew “Bong” B. Barrientos (Training Center Superintendent II of ATI MIMAROPA) attested support and opened ATI’s doors for learning opportunities to SAAD beneficiaries and implementers. Dr. Rosana Mula explained how training and extension are vital to farmers in increasing their yield and sustainability.
As the “extension and training arm of the Philippine Department of Agriculture”, ATI facilitates training for agricultural extension workers in LGUs which in turn gives training to farmers in their area. SAAD staff were advised to do a community assessment to determine the type of training the beneficiaries will receive from the local agricultural extension workers.
“To give advantageous training, it needs to be a team effort between the LGU and us [from ATI and SAAD],” Dr. Rosana Mula said.
As youths engage in agricultural activities and programs, be it in private or public service practices, SAAD is hopeful that its relatively young workforce would benefit the marginalized farmers and their communities. SAAD MIMAROPA also aims to marry the field practice and the digital age to further strengthen and modernize their local agricultural activities.
Certainly, Philippine agriculture could continue its battle with great vigor as the youth jumps into the field. With the state’s support and continued dedication to poverty alleviation through agriculture, the industry could remain young and adaptable to further move towards modernization and food security. ###
Writer: Dianne Francis A. Sy, SAAD Information Officer I
Vilmar J. Robes, SAAD Area Coordinator (Magsaysay),
Wily Adrian E. Vergara, SAAD Area Coordinator (Abra de Ilog),
Ian Von Yadao, SAAD Area Coordinator (Sta. Cruz)
Jhonzell Panganiban, SAAD Area Coordinator (Paluan)
Management Study Guide. (n.d.). Why Globalization Succeeds When the Workforce is Young? Globalization. https://www.managementstudyguide.com/globalization-and-young-workforce.htm