by Myleen Subang

A total of 380 farmers successfully graduate from the School on the Air (SOA) on coffee production of the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Oct. 15 at The Mansion, Iloilo City.

During the culminating activity, DA-Field Operations Division OIC-chief Dominador Marquez lauded the farmers who took part in the on air program for continuously seeking new insights to improve their productivity and to advance the region’s coffee industry.

“Ang DA nagapanginbulahan sa 380 tanan nga nag gradwar sa aton school-on-the-air agud matun-an ang nasari-sari nga teknolohiya nga makabulig sa pagpasanyog sang industriya sang kape sa Western Visayas,” Marquez expressed.

Marquez cited that DA continues to provide interventions for coffee growers in the region to strengthen the industry.

According to him, the DA through the High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) distributed 30 rolls of UV films for coffee drying, 500 units grafting knife, 500 units each of pruning shears, pruning saw and grafting knife, 15 units of mini-chainsaw to support the coffee rejuvenation and production program of the region.

Also, two coffee processing facilities were established in Murcia and La Castellana, Negros Occidental to develop their community-based coffee processing enterprises.

As the demand for coffee is now on the rise, DA also distributed around 900,000 pieces of coffee seedling throughout the region since 2017.

In 2020, the DA-HVCDP also allocated funds for the procurement of coffee stem cuttings according to the DA Field Operations OIC-chief.

On the other hand, Regional Coffee Coordinator Jairus Sirue who also served as the Resource Person of the SOA said that farmers need to adopt technologies such as pruning, handpicking of ripe coffee berries and rejuvenation to improve their yield and income as well as the quality of their coffee produce.

Hence, the two and a half-month on-air course covered various coffee technologies from the production, harvesting and postharvest topics.

Of the 380 graduates, ten farmers excelled from their batch, namely: Nelma Carillo of Dingle; Elsie Suarnaba of Passi City; Salvador Subere of Sta. Barbara; Nelfa Daquiado of San Enrique; Rafael Paniergo and Leticia Cadiz of Oton; Victoria Jucaban from New Lucena; Jomar Dominguez of Cabatuan; Rogelio Ciat and Charlotte Escriba of Barotac Viejo.

Eight farmer-leaders were also awarded as outstanding SOA coordinators, they were: Myrna Reyes of Passi City; Rocelin Sotomil, Judy Tayupon of Oton; Maria Lisa Mayandia of New Lucena; Lynie Valencia, Lea Deala of Dingle, Ireneo Sampani of Cabatuan; and Norberto Gonzales, Jr. of Barotac Viejo, Iloilo.

Outstanding graduates and coordinators received a certificate of recognition and one set of farm tools each consisting of knapsack sprayer, spade, pruning shear and handsaw.

Meanwhile, Teddy Cañete of the Minoyan Murcia Marginal Coffee Growers (M3CG) in Murcia, Negros Occidental served as the inspirational speaker during the ceremony.

Cañete narrated the success story of their association, how they started as a small time coffee growers into a promising coffee entrepreneurs.

The SOA is aired over DYRI-RMN 774Khz in Iloilo City every Wednesday to Thursday at 3:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. from August to October in collaboration with the DA-High Value Crops Development Program. Eleven municipalities participated in the SOA namely, Barotac Viejo, Cabatuan, Dingle, Janiuay, Miagao, New Lucena, Oton, Passi City, San Enrique, Sta. Barbara in Iloilo and Nueva Valencia in Guimaras province.