Mayor Maria Gloria "Meg" Constantino (lady wearing brown dress) of Abra de Ilog receives the award as an Outstanding Municipality in the 2016 National Quality Corn Achievers Awards at he Farm @ Carpenter Hill, Koronadal City. (Photo by Paulo Emmanuel Ajose, DA-MiMaRoPa, RAFIS)
For two consecutive years, Abra de Ilog in Occidental Mindoro has been recognized as an Outstanding Municipality in the National Quality Corn Achievers Awards (NQCAA) from the Department of Agriculture (DA). They bagged the award in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
The recognition is being given to municipalities that have demonstrated excellence in developing and strengthening the corn industry in their area.
Agriculture is the major livelihood in Abra de Ilog. Aside from the high mountains, vast farm lands also cover its landscapes.
There is a total of 16, 378 hectares (ha.) of agricultural land in the area, with corn being one of the top commodities produced, next to rice. Currently, almost 2,345 ha is devoted to corn production with an average yield of 6.3 metric ton (MT) per ha.
Armed with different farm machineries, trainings, seminars, and different farm inputs from the Department of Agriculture in partnership with the local government, Abra de Ilog have shown continuous upswing in corn production.
From 2013 the municipality had 4.92 MT corn yields that increased in 2014 with 5.99 MT and was amplified at 6.5MT in 2015.
Cooperation, they say, is their secret to success.
“Kami po sa Abra De Ilog kasama po ang Kagawaran ng Pagsasaka dito sa atin ay sama-samang tumutugon sa pangangailangan ng ating mamamayan at higit po sa lahat ng ating mga magsasaka,” Mayor Maria Gloria "Meg" Constantino of Abra de Ilog said, when asked about the key behind their achievements.
The farmers, the LGU, and the DA through their agricultural extension workers (AEWs), demonstrate persistence in making the corn industry sustainable. The AEWs regularly go around their assigned areas and personally talk to farmers to know their needs.
“Wala po talagang table agriculturist dito kailangan po na lumabas sila dahil po ang ating sakahan ay nasa labas so talaga po sila ay nakikisalamuha sa ating mga farmers. Kasi hindi po natin matutugunan ang mga problema ng ating magsasaka kung tayo ay nasa ating opisina lamang. Kailangan alamin ang mga pangangailangan at tulungan sa anumang aspeto ang ating mga magsasaka,” she emphasized.
Because the Mayor urges AEWs to work hand in hand with the farmers, their Municipal Agriculturist, Julius Judelito Amodia, was also awarded as an Outstanding Municipal Agriculturist.
Abra de Ilog's Municipal Agriculturist Julius Judelito Amodia recives his plaque an medal as Outstanding Municipal Agriculturist in the National Quality Corn Achievers Awards. (Photo by Paulo Emmanuel Ajose, DA-MiMaRoPa, RAFIS)
Furthermore, two of their technicians under Amodia’s supervision, were also awarded among the Outstanding AEWs, namely Arvin Umali and Mary Darish Marquez.
AEWs are comprised of municipal agriculturist and agricultural technicians of the local government units. They are among DA’s partners in addressing the needs of the farmers.
“Dito po sa Municipal Agriculturist Office (MAO) ng lokal na pamahalaan ng Abra De Ilog kami po ang nagpo-provide ng mga serbisyo sa ating mga farmers at saka sa mga fisherfolks po natin. Gaya po ng seed ng corn at ganun din po sa palay. Then sa mga serbisyo po sa mga farm mechanization ay yung farm tractor services, yung corn harvester at corn picker,” Amodia said.
Farm machineries in Abra de Ilog’s MAO cost lower rental fees compared to private cooperatives in their area. Farmers would flocked into their office during cropping season to rent their machineries because it help them lessen their production expenses.
Abra de Ilog's Municipal Agriculturist Julius Judelito Amodia (man in blue poloshirt), check on their corn picker at their Techno-Demo Farm. This is among the machineries they have for corn farmers. (Photo by Denice Joelle Benosa, DA-MiMaRoPa, RAFIS)
Fortunately, winning in the Quality Corn Achievers Award did not only merit Abra de Ilog the admiration of DA; it also allowed them to acquire farm equipment in support of the corn production and other commodities. In NQCAA, P1-million worth of projects is given to a municipality when it is awarded among the top local government units.
“Para po mas lalo pa naming mapaganda ang serbisyo namin doon sa mga constituents sa ating magsasaka katulad po noong una kaming manalo sa corn quality, ginamit po namin ito para makabili ng Solar Water Pump lalo na po ngayon ay nagkakaroon ng pagbabago sa klima,” Amodia mentioned.
MA Amodia checks the corn plantation in their Techno-Demo Farm which is open for visitors who wants to learn about farming. (Photo by Denice Joelle Benosa, DA-MiMaRoPa, RAFIS)
Aside from regular visitation and consultation with the farmers, Amodia and his team of AEWs also conduct trainings and seminars for farmers such as Farmer Field School, OPV Corn Production Training, Good Agricultural Practices on Corn Production, Pest and Diseases Management, Cooking Demo, Corn Cluster Development Programs to update farmers with the new technologies for corn farming.
They also have provision of farm to market and irrigation facility, development of market linkages to increase farmer’s income, and strengthening of farmers organization and irrigators association such as institutional development seminars.