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By Lovella P. Guarin

CEBU CITY --- The Bicol Region bagged four of the 9 National Organic Agriculture Achievers Awards during the 15th National Organic Agriculture Congress held November 13-15 at the Waterfront Hotel, this city.

Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel T. Cayanan and National Organic Agriculture Focal Person Engr. Christopher Morales led the awarding ceremony.

The province of Albay received P3M project grant as National

Outstanding Province implementing the Organic Agriculture (OA) program.

Gov. Al Francis Bichara -- together with Provincial Agriculturist Cheryl Rebeta, DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Elena B. de los Santos, OIC RTD Rodel P. Tornilla, and Reggional OA forcal person Adelina A. Losa -- received the trophy and check worth P3M.

Albay garnered the highest award as it successfully implemented the Family Based Food Production Program (AFBFPP).

The winning program was actively participated in by 100 households per barangay. Started in January 2017, the program helped each family put up a backyard vegetable garden and communal vegetable gardens in each barangay. All these families were trained to produce their own organic fertilizers out of kitchen wastes and other indigenous materials.

Eleanor Daep, Albay provincial Organic Agriculture Program focal person, also bagged the award for the National Outstanding OA Focal Person and received P50,000 cash award and trophy.

Joey Hade, 25 years old, who belongs to the indigenous tribe of Agta Tabangnon in Goa, Camarines Sur is this year’s national outstanding Young Organic Agriculture Farmer. He received P100,000 cash award and trophy.

Meanwhile, the Goa Agri Producers and Processors Association (GAPPA) was adjudged as national outstanding Organic Agriculture Farmers’ Group and received P500,000 cash award and trophy.

GAPPA is the prime mover of organic farming system and the leading consolidator and distributor of organic produce of small holder group of farmers in the municipality of Goa, Camarines Sur. Organized in 2013, GAPPA is now composed of 63 farmer producers covering 58 hectares of productive farm areas in Goa, and some parts of the neighboring municipalities of San Jose, Tinambac and Caramoan in Camarines Sur.

The national finalists were also honored during the ceremony.

Five shortlisted national finalists from Bicol Region also received trophies. They are: Ligao City – national finalist for Outstanding City category; Arlene Dayo, municipal OA focal person of Goa, Camarines Sur – national finalist for Outstanding Mun./City OA Focal Person; Felix Gino Murillo of Ligao City – national finalist for Agricultural Extension Worker category; Rossini Obligacion – national finalist for Small Farmer Individual Category; and Edilberto Abad and family of Goa, Cam. Sur – national finalist for Organic Farming Family.

All the national finalists and major awardees were accompanied on stage by RED Ellen de los Santos, RTD Tornilla, and Adelina A. Losa. The Bicol Region is composed of over 75 delegates during the congress and the awarding rites.

The Organic Agriculture congress depicted the theme “Organic Agriculture: Advancing the Local Food Culture Movement in the Philippines.”

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