Banga, Aklan – The Aklan State University (ASU) received a trophy and cash prize being the lead implementing agency of the project “Establishment and Sustainability of Farmer-Teachers in the Agrarian Reform Communities in the Province of Aklan” as Third Prize Winner of the CY 2006-2007 Best Public Sector Projects Awards under the state universities and colleges category.

The awarding ceremonies was held on April 18, 2008 at the Iloilo Grand Hotel, Iloilo City. It was the Second Regional Development Council VI Awards recognizing Local Government Units, Regional Line Agencies and State Universities and Colleges that have implemented projects to address the development agenda of the region.

It is in partnership with the Canadian Urban Institute Urban Partnerships Program Philippines, German Technical Cooperation Decentralization Program and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Iloilo City. During the awarding ceremonies, the University was represented by its President, Dr. Benny A. Palma and the Project Leader and Director of Extension and Community Services, Dr. Anna Mae C. Relingo. Likewise, the Project Team Members, Dr. Evelyn P. Vedasto and Dr. Lelisa J. Teodosio and Altavas Municipal Agriculturist, Mrs. Mila J. Andrade were present.

The Project was presented during the awarding ceremonies by the Farmer-Teacher himself, Mr. Pio Baconawa from Barangay Talon, Altavas, Aklan.

The FT Project was conceived and implemented by the University in partnership with the Department of Agrarian Reform, Agricultural Training Institute and Local Government Units to transform agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) into a new breed of Filipino farmer-entrepreneurs who are productive enough to sustain employment, livelihood and rural welfare. It is a means to transfer agricultural technologies to the farmers under the principle of “learning by doing”. It is based on the belief that the commitment to alleviate the life of the poor should be complemented by alternative sustainable income generation activities utilizing appropriate local resources and area specific technologies.

The trained, developed and sustained ARBs, were effective partners in the development and promotion of agricultural technologies. Consequently, they served as models of a new breed of empowered farmer-entrepreneurs and as active partners in the socio-economic development of the countryside.

The FT project was pilot tested in five (5) municipalities in the Province of Aklan, namely: Altavas, Madalag, Malinao, Makato and Ibajay. It includes training of farmer-teachers, establishment and maintenance of their respective demonstration farms as venue for hands-on training of their fellow farmers on High Value Commercial Crops (HVCC) Production with technical assistance from the ASU Field Instructor, Agricultural Technologist from the LGUs and Development Facilitator of the Department of Agrarian Reform, who compose the FT Team in every pilot municipality.

The FT project enabled the communities to understand the practical problems of the farming community and the measures necessary to address these problems, which ultimately led to the development of a need-based, location specific package of technologies.

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