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Bicol bags national outstanding rural woman award

By Lovella P. Guarin

QUEZON CITY --- The Bicol Region took center stage once again as a 28-year old strawberry farm owner from Catanduanes was hailed as the grand winner in the 2021 DA’s Search for National Outstanding Rural Women. The award was dubbed as “Gawad Parangal sa Katangi-tanging Kababaihan sa Pagsasaka at Pangingisda sa Kanayunan.”

Cristina Torreda, Bicol’s contender to the search is only 28 years old but she was able to establish a flourishing strawberry farm in San Andres, Catanduanes - a typhoon-prone island known as the Land of the Howling Wind.

The awarding ceremony was held at the BSWM on December 2, 2021, where Torreda received a plaque of recognition and a P150,000.00 cash award from the DA.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar, in his recorded keynote speech, recognized Torreda’s resiliency amidst adversities which sets her apart from the 11 other nominees from the other regions of the country.

Cristina Torreda (center) strawberry farmer from San Andres, Catanduanes is the grand winner of 2021 DA’s Search for National Outstanding Rural Women.

Torreda started her strawberry farm in San Andres, Catanduanes in 2018 using a mere P15,000 personal loan she spent on her original 130 mother plants. Today, her 1.5 hectares “Cristina’s Strawberry Farm” is now teeming with different varieties of strawberries, blueberry, mulbery, raspberry, pomegranate, lettuce, dragon fruits and lowland vegetables. Hydroponics technology sustains her year-round production. Local and foreign tourists keep coming back to enjoy picking berries and making their own fresh salad. The strawberry farm also accommodates overnight stay for photoshoot and camping.

During the awarding ceremony, Undersecretary of High Value Crops and Rural Credit Evelyn Laviña, who is also the chair of both the DA Gender and Development (GAD) focal point system and the award’s board of judges, was joined by Commissioner Sandra Sanchez Montano, Chairperson Phil. Commission on Women, and Deputy Executive Director Annray V. Rivera Program Director of Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI).

“The search is a fitting tribute to remind our womenfolk in agriculture and fishery how valuable and precious they are not only to the DA but also to the entire country,” Lavina said.

The annual search aims to recognize the role of women in food production that contributes to food security, reduction of hunger and malnutrition and poverty as enshrined in the RA 9710 (Magna Carta of women).

The evaluation of the credentials of the nominees was done virtually with the stories of the nominees in their written profiles and video presentations.

The National Technical Committee was composed of high caliber heads/representatives of East-West Seed, Food and Agriculture Organization

Landbank of the Philippines, Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan, Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards, and Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation. They evaluated the nominees based on three criteria: 30% contribution to food security and agricultural development; 30% contribution to sustainable development; 40% impact to rural development

According to the guidelines, the DA regional field offices will also grant the Outstanding Rural Women winners with projects that could enhance their agribusiness undertaking in the form of production inputs, production or postharvest machineries, equipment and facilities.

The awarding rites was attended by the National Technical Committee members and DA GAD focal persons of all the regions. Bicol region was represented by DA 5 GAD focal person Aloha Gigi I. Bañaria.


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