The Department of Agriculture (DA-7) has equipped farmers in Negros Oriental with trainings on production and marketing for cacao, corn, cassava and hybrid rice to enhance their skills and knowledge on new farming technologies for sustainable income and livelihood from agriculture.

According to DA-7 Agricultural Program Coordination Officer (APCO), Sarah Perocho that the agency encourages farmers of all kinds of agricultural products to undergo the various trainings they offer for them to become competitive in their agri-production and income.

Perocho announced that in Bais City, Negros oriental for example, some 22 Cacao farmers completed recently the 16 weeks or four-month Season-Long Farmer Field School (FFS) training on Cacao Production from August to December 2020.

“The learnings and skills you get from the training will help you increase your cacao yield. Despite the pandemic, you are still motivated to attend the training and that’s a good point,” Perocho told the 22-cacao farmer-graduates during their graduation event Tuesday.

Bais City Agriculturist Wilfredo Manila said that these Cacao farmers took a pre-test and a post examination to check if they have learned from the training after the completion of the training that started last August 20 this year.

A farmer-graduate Lolita Academia of Nalandan, Bais City expressed her deep appreciation to the DA and its City Agriculture Office (CAO) for the support provided to them to broaden their knowledge and skills.

“Daku kaayo ni nga oportunidad nga gitudluan mi sa sakto nga pamaagi sa pagpananum og cacao alang sa among panginabuhian. Kining kahibalo nga among nakuha gikan sa pagbansaybansay, amo kining i-apply ingon man amo kining ipa-ambit sa mga kauban namo,” Academia said. (We are grateful for this opportunity to be trained on the proper cacao production and management. The learnings we gained from this training will be applied in our farms and will also be shared to others.)

Ricardo Guzarem, another cacao farmer said that the training gave him additional knowledge on cacao production. “Kun wala kini nga training, dili mi makabalo sa mga insaktong pamaagi. Makatabang kaayo kini namo nga mga mag-uuma. Manghinaut ko nga unta anaa sab nga makina alang sa pagproceso sa tsokolate,” Gusarem said. (Without this training, we won’t learn the right practices, and this will also help us a lot. I hope, a machine will also be provided for the processing of chocolate.)

Corn, Cassava production/marketing

In Dumaguete City meanwhile, some 50 corn and cassava farmers-stakeholders attended the production and marketing training last December 11 to enhance stakeholders’ skills in production and marketing of cassava and corn.

Perocho said that a market matching was held between the corn and cassava farmers and buyers to get their commitments on the volume they can produce and demand for a price based on the suggested retail price (SRP) of the year.

“We need to help them because DA is always behind them, supporting them in all their endeavors. Market matching is needed to help the corn and cassava farmers market their produce,” she added.

According to Rey Liabres Negre, the Area Coordinator and representative of San Miguel Corp, (SMC) that the company targets to buy around 3,000 tons of yellow corn for the 2021 as the demand for animal feeds is increasing.

Nelda Silay, Chairperson of San Vicente Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (SAVARBA), a farmers group in Siaton, Negros Oriental said that they joined the training to be able to link with a buyer.

“Sige ko attend ug mga trainings aron motaas among abot ug kita. Unya, if naa na mi buyer, di na mi magworry sa amo abot unsaon namo pagdispose. Sa pagkakaron wa sa ko mo-commit pila ka toneladas nga mais,” Silay said. (I always attend trainings in order to increase our production and yield. Once we have our buyer, we will no longer worry on how to dispose our produce. As of now, I have not yet committed as to how many tons of corn I can produce).

Dante Osorio, President of the Kalumbuyan Multipurpose Farmers Association (KAMULFA) in Bayawan City, Negros Oriental committed 200 tons of yellow corn which will be available by March 2021.

Adrian Enriquez, the assistant City Agriculturist said that farmers in Bayawan City can produce more than 600 tons of yellow corn while the Local Government Unit of Bais City also shared that they have 55 hectares of farms planted with yellow corn.

On the other hand, the Mabinay Farmer Scientist Organization (MAFSO) has committed cassava since they have around two hectares of farms planted with cassava.

For Canlaon City, Perocho said that the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) recommended six inbred rice varieties to the rice farmers there after they introduced these varieties through the Palay SIKATAN, a rice technology field demonstration conducted on December 9, this year in Barangay Aquino, Canlaon City.

The recommended inbred rice seeds were the RC216, RC222, RC160 as national varieties, PSBRC18 as regional variety while the RC442, RC480 were new varieties, Perocho said.

During the field day and forum, rice farmers were toured at the demo site to get firsthand information on the performances of the introduced varieties. Rice farmers Victor Pajardo and Marilou Estrada expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to be part of the rice field day and forum.

Fajardo said that joining the activity exposed him to learn the new recommended rice varieties and provided additional knowledge on rice farming while Estrada said that she will try to use one of the recommended varieties and compare the difference of the rice seeds she usually used with the new recommended varieties.

The activity was attended by PhilRice Director Gerardo Estoy, City Mayor Jose Chubasco, City Agriculturist Andrea Canoy, SP Chairman on Agriculture Ronilo Llanes, Agricultural Program Coordinating Officer of DA-7 Sarah Perocho, Provincial Agriculturist Nestor Villaflores and RCEF Focal Person Jose Arnel Cordova.