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Agta Tabangnon farmers from Sorsogon finish FFS under DA-SAAD

SORSOGON, September 10, 2021 – Thirty-two (32) farmers belonging to the Agta Tabangnon community in Brgy. Gimagaan, Donsol Sorsogon completed a season-long Farmers’ Field School (FFS) on Vegetable Production Technology on September 8.

All graduates are members of the Gimagaan Indigenous People Farmers’ Association (GIPFA), beneficiaries of the Department of Agriculture – Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) Program. 

The FFS is one of the interventions under the Social Preparation component of SAAD in collaboration with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to ensure readiness on agricultural livelihood management and empowerment of its beneficiaries. Likewise, this is a strategy to strengthen and improve beneficiaries’ agricultural knowledge and skills in ensuring improved productivity and sustainability. 

A combination of lecture and hands-on learning, the FFS ran for 12 weeks which started on May 28, 2021. Beneficiaries gathered every Friday from 6:00AM-3:00PM to learn the basics of vegetable farming from seedling management, soil preparation (plowing and tilling), seedbed preparation, and Agro-Ecosystem Analysis (AESA) including identifying beneficial insects and pest insects. 

FFS uses a participatory method of learning where participants can exchange knowledge and experiences in an environment conducive to learning. It encourages learning-by-doing, utilizing field-based settings for hands-on group learning. This fosters and improves participants’ skills through observing, analysing and trying out their learnings in their own fields, contributing to improved production and livelihoods (FAO, n.d.).

During the training, the FFS also included special topics selected by the farmers such as organic concoction making or preparation of FPJ (Fermented Plant Juice), and FFJ (Fermented Fruit Juice). 

Municipal High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) Coordinator Sharmie Guerrero served as resource person assisted by SAAD Area Coordinator of Donsol Mark Joven Barja. 

For the hands-on part, the association utilized a half hectare vacant lot as a training site cum community vegetable garden where they planted eggplant, pepper, ampalaya, and cucumber. They were happy when they sold 17 kilograms (kg) of eggplant, which were excess harvests after dividing the yield among themselves for their families’ consumption.

The graduation ceremonies held at Bgy. Gimagaan, Donsol, Sorsogon was honored by Dr. Mary Grace Rodriguez, SAAD Bicol Action Officer and Chief of the Field Operations Division. 

“Magtatapos na kayo ngayon, pero hindi pa po ito tapos. Dito pa lang tayo magsisimula. Although may mga interventions na na-provide before sa inyo, we will still provide the farm inputs, farm tools, and planting materials para masimulan nyo na after graduation yun pwede nyong gawin para i-apply ang natutuhan nyo sa FFS,” Dr. Rodriguez quipped.

[You may be graduating (from the FFS) but this is not the end of it. This is just the beginning. Although there were interventions previously provided to all of you, we will still provide farm inputs, farm tools, and planting materials so you may start practicing what you acquired from your FFS.]

During the graduation, Dr. Rodriguez distributed a total of Php 230,000 worth of interventions under the SAAD High-Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) comprising of 60 bags of complete fertilizer, 15 bags of urea, two bags of muriate of potash; 30 each of bolos, rakes, trowels, hand sprayers, and crates; 20 plastic drums, 20 sets of garden tools, 15 garden twines, 10 knapsack sprayers, pruning shear, and brush cutter. 

In addition, graduates received assorted planting materials such as 100 calamansi seedlings, 180 taro cuttings, two bags of peanut seeds, two bags of ginger, and 10kg of assorted vegetables seeds.

Allan L. Magdamit, president of the Gimagaan Indigenous Farmers’ Association, was grateful for the opportunity given to his tribe. 

“Sobra kaming natulungan ng SAAD sa pamamagitan ng FFS na ito at naibigay din sa amin lahat ng pangangailangan namin sa pagtatanim. Sa ngayon po ay marami sa barangay namin ay nahihikayat nang magtanim. Makaka-asa po ang SAAD na hindi masasayang ang mga itinulong ninyo sa aming barangay lalo na sa aming mga Indigenous Peoples,” Allan shared.

[SAAD greatly helped us through this FFS, and by providing all the farming materials we need. Because of this, many members of our community are encouraged to engage in planting. Rest assured, the inputs for our barangay, especially us, indigenous peoples will not be disregarded.]

Also present during the FFS graduation are Donsol Municipal Agriculturist Engr. Lindez Espada, Bgy. Captain Benjamine M. Arellano, Agricultural Program Coordinating Officer (APCO) Florentino Ubalde Jr., and Engr. Agnes Espinola, OIC Superintendent of Regional Dairy Production and Tech-Center.

For 2021, SAAD targets to conduct three FFS on vegetable production for the beneficiaries in Sorsogon, Catanduanes, and Masbate. ###

Writer: Lovella P. Guarin, DA-Bicol Information Officer


Mary Rose Detera



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