Sorsogon ‘Pili King’ is TOFARM 2014 Farmer of the Year

MANILA, Philippines - Jose E. Amador of Sorsogon City, a former Magsasakang Siyentista who pioneered pili farming in Sorsogon and boosted livelihood and tourism in his province for his innovative, organic, sustainable and integrated farming, is the TOFARM 2014 Farmer of the Year.

Amador led 55 other awardees in the categories of livestock farming, fisherfolk, urban/city farming, family farming, agri-initiatives, agri-innovator, agri-entrepreneur, agri-cooperative, Local Government Unit, young farmer, woman farmer and farmer in the Awards Night of The Outstanding Farmers of the Philippines (TOFARM) held at the Rizal Ballroom of the Shangri-La Manila last  Jan. 30.

Northern farmers from Isabela, the Ilocos Region, Baguio, Ifugao and Isabela again won most of the awards (13), followed by farmers from Zamboanga, Lanao del Norte and Cotabato province in Mindanao (10), Southern Luzon (6), the Visayas (5), the Bicol Region (5) and the NCR (1).

The annual nationwide search for outstanding farmers is conducted by the Junior Chamber International Philippines and Universal Harvester Inc.

First instituted in the ‘70s by JCIP, the search was revived in 2012 by JCIP and UHI to give due recognition to the unsung heroes of the agricultural sector and to encourage more young farmers to take up farming as a profession and vocation.

Other winners in the farmer category alongside Amador were Isidro C. Bacani from La Union, Romeo S. Pidoc of Camarines Norte, Arturo D.Pasacas of Samar, Fredimor G. Pueblos of Lanao del Norte, Juan C. Mangcao of Lanao del Norte and Genesis T. Ocapan of Zamboanga del Sur.

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Woman farmer winners were : Desiree B. Duran of Bulacan (Gold), Cresencia M. Tuiza of Laguna and Agnes M. Asuncion of Ilocos Norte.

Young farmer winners were Alex O. Aborita of Leyte (Gold) and Christopher E. Balquin of Sorsogon.

Urban/city farmers were also recognized in the awards. Danilo M. Agliam of Baguio won Gold in this category, followed by Elizabeth A. Garceron of Laguna and Ronie A. Maloloy-on from Cebu.

Fisherfolk who received awards were Danilo A. Santos of Isabela (Gold), Valie J, Baricanosa of Laguna and Ludovico R. Villanueva of Dagupan.

Livestock farmer winners were Delia C. Dejan of Calamba, Laguna (Gold), Arcadio F. Belen, Jr. of San Ildefonso, Bulacan and Arnulfo B. Corpus of Ilocos Norte.

Family farmers who represented entire families working together on farming ventures are Benito P. Travilla and family from Cotabato (Gold), Daniel and Remia Apostol family from South Cotabato and Nestor C. Acosta and family of Ilocos Norte.

There were also agri-innovator winners (Carlos S. de la Cruz of Leyte, Gold; Ariston D. Calvo of Kabacan, Cotabato and Rodolfo C. Tuangqui of Polangui, Albay) and agri-entrepreneur winners (Lucrecia M. Neri of Cotabato, Gold; Troy D. Bumagat of Ormoc, Leyte, Alberto C. Calsada of Ilocos Norte and Abraham A. Flores of Isabela Province).

TOFARM 2014 also awarded groups that contributed improvements and opportunities for livelihood in their communities.

 The Carael Elementary School in Pangasinan won Gold in the agri-initiatives category, followed by the San Isidro Upper Rural Improvement Club and  Women’s Association of Lanao del Norte, the City Agriculture Office of San Carlos City, Pangasinan and the Bubuyan Elementary School of Calamba, Laguna.

The Local Government of Barangay Holy Spirit in Quezon City (Gold) topped the Local Government Unit category followed by the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist in Sorsogon, the City Government of Calamba and the Local Government Unit of Tabina, Zamboanga del Sur.

More agricultural groups received special citations for their achievements in agriculture, while other groups and cooperatives were recognized as Kabalikat partners for working hand in hand with the TOFARM sponsor and organizers to raise awareness and understanding for the farm programs of TOFARM.

“Our farmers have undergone numerous challenges in the past, particularly so in 2013 when our farmers in the Visayas experienced Typhoon Yolanda. Through TOFARM, we want to show our farmers nationwide that support for them is always present, and that their efforts will always be recognized and put to good use. We are committed to educate, uplift, recognize and inspire our Filipino farmers to keep on going and strive toward our common goals,”, said Dr. Milagros Ong How, executive vice president of Universal Harvester Inc.

TOFARM project director Rommel M. Cunanan said, “Philippine agriculture can only succeed if we involve more youth, more women, more sectors and groups in farming.

Through TOFARM, we wish to call the attention of all sectors to support our agricultural sector and in the process contribute to our success as a nation.

We thank our organizing partner, Universal Harvester, Inc. for supporting this project all the way from its reintroduction in 2012 to the present.