Ilocos farmer leader yields 14.3 MT/ha of Palay in Dry Season

Passion for farming is his key to success

When 47-year-old George T. Pasion, Jr. of Barangay San Marcos, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte decided to follow his father footsteps in farming, he knew he would need to adapt to change in many aspects of rice farming. From planting to harvesting, Pasion was prepared to embrace every struggle that would come and challenge his methods.

Alagaan pag tinanim, hindi pabayaan,” these are Pasion’s words, describing his methods for the past 25 years being a farmer. With 3 children and a supporting wife, Pasion managed to have all-year round cropping.

Armed with dedication to his work, Pasion and his father were among the first farmers in Ilocos to use hybrid rice and, to be precise, using the SL-8H developed by SL Agritech Corp. (SLAC).

Given the weather condition in Ilocos Region with the highest temperature from March to June, it became the perfect opportunity for Pasion to plant SL-8H as it is resilient in dry season.

This is the beginning of Pasion’s journey in making SL-8H variety his top and only choice of palay (unmilled rice) during dry season. He and his father’s breakthrough of harvesting more than 200 cavans per hectare since 2003 prompted him to continue on planting this variety in his paddy fields. Summing it up, a total of 3 hectares were planted purely with SL-8H variety.

Sumubok ako ng ibang hybrids, pero hindi kasing ganda ng ani sa SL-8H (I tried using other hybrid varieties, but the quality is not good as SL-8H),” Pasion said as he proudly reported the 285.6 cavans or 14.3 metric tons per hectare (MT/ha) of rice he harvested this last cropping season (April 2021). The SL-8H (NSIC Rc-132H) seeds were given to him, along with the many farmers in Ilocos Region by the Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Office 1, under the government’s Rice Resiliency Program.

He also noted that the SL-8H grains are noticeable to be whole, not cracked or granulated if compared to the other hybrid varieties. This quality of grain is the key why using SL-8H is profitable to farmers and being a “devotee” is unquestionable.  

Pasion, who is also the president of the Barangay San Marcos Farmers’ Association, became the “apple of the eye” of many farmers who were inspired by his loyalty to SL-8H. With his regular harvest of more than 200 cavans per hectare of palay during dry season, his friends and kabarangay were easily swoon over to use SLAC’s flagship—SL-8H, as almost everyone in his barangay are now “Ka-SL-8H.”

In fact, he has many experiences of using inbred rice from land preparation to harvesting and the process is no different at all.

Parehas lang ang araw, oras at (higit sa lahat) pagod kahit anong variety ng palay ang gagamitin,” Pasion said as he explained his routine in the farm. Like other rice variety, part of his daily challenges is dealing with pests and diseases which can be controlled.

In his paddy fields, Pasion has no special techniques to control pests and diseases but he is always in the position of controlling the imminent threats to his farm. Such agricultural practice is spraying bio-control agents against snails and other pests before planting.

According to Pasion, the yield from the SL-8H variety is more than double or triple than the usual inbred varieties of palay. With his perseverance in farming, the time and money he spent are his investments that he wanted other farmers in the country to adapt—a regular income of P200K during dry eason.

He said that PhP 50K to PhP 100K is a small investment, as the earnings will definitely cover all the efforts poured in farming.

The relentless efforts of Pasion in farming paved the way for his eldest child to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Accountancy. From the bulk of his earnings only during dry season, he was able to support the studies of his children.

As he continued his cropping this wet season, he will take a risk of using another variety of SL, the SL-20H, in this cropping season. Said to be an all-weather variety, SL-20H is also resilient during the wet season. And so, Pasion is very eager and hopeful that this yield will also become double or triple using SL-20H.

Malaki ang pasasalamat ko sa Department of Agriculture na nabibigyan kami ng ganun (suporta) (I am really thankful to the DA which provides such support),” Pasion expressing his heartfelt gratitude as one of the many beneficiaries of free seeds from the rice resiliency program of DA.But Pasion, as the farm leader in Barangay San Marcos, reminded himself and his farmer members that “we should not be dependent alone in the support coming from DA”.

Hindi naman kailangan iasa lahat sa kanila (DA)”, Pasion explained referring to DA. “Nasa ugali ng tao ang pag-asenso,” he added. His experience taught him well that support from DA will be unproductive if farmers will not do their part.  ###

July 2, 2021

50 scholars in Bukidnon start training on coffee farming

TAGUIG CITY – A total of 50 coffee farmers in Bukidnon have started their free training on Coffee Production Level II in Bukidnon Integrated Coffee Center (BICC) in Dalwangan, Malaybalay City.

This came as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and Nestlè Philippines implement their partnership as indicated in the Memorandum of Agreement signed last May 9, 2021.

TESDA-Bukidnon announced that out of 50 scholars, 25 individuals belonging to the first batch are coffee growers and coffee farm workers from Maramag town, while the other 25 individuals are from Lantapan town. They are the first two batches for this training program.

One of the program beneficiaries is Leo Zambrano, a coffee farmer from Barangay Kaatuan in the town of Lantapan who is known as the Nescafé Plan Coffee Ambassador and whose face can be seen on Nescafé packs.

The first batch of scholars started their training through a virtual Training Induction Program held last June 24, 2021 followed by the second batch held on July 1, 2021.

Their training in Coffee Production Level II, which lasts for 176 hours or 25-days, is being done through a combination of face-to-face and distance learning where they can learn about modern coffee growing and entrepreneurship.

The training program has allotted 200 scholarship slots in Bukidnon for this year and will accommodate six more batches to be identified by Nestlé Philippines.

Based on the agreement, TESDA will train the identified beneficiaries of Nestlé Philippines initially in Bukidnon and the Province of Sultan Kudarat where 80 percent of the country’s coffee is grown.

TESDA Secretary Isidro Lapeña was delighted to hear about the start of the training program in Bukidnon.

“This is why TESDA and Nestlé Philippines are joining hands to carry out the coffee production project. By upskilling the workers and trainers in coffee production, we will enable the farmers and indigenous people to produce quality coffee beans that are at par with the standards of Nestlé,” he said.

Lapeña is also looking forward that this scholarship program will reach more coffee farmers in the country.

Meanwhile, TESDA-XII is now preparing to implement the Coffee Production Level II in the Province of Sultan Kudarat. ###

05 July 2021

Lapeña inaugurates TESDA Training Center in Samal Island, visits food hub in Sarangani

TAGUIG CITY – The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) chief Secretary Isidro Lapeña joined the local officials and residents of the Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS) during the groundbreaking ceremony of the city’s training center on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.

On top of the event is also the launching of various skills training programs to be offered by the TESDA Training Center – IGACOS for its people.

“Despite the pandemic, I am glad that this cooperation has proceeded as planned. And here we are today, to mark this milestone as a meaningful engagement for the betterment of our community and our kababayans through technical education and skills development programs,” Lapeña said in his speech.

It was October last year when TESDA and the Local Government of IGACOS, headed by Mayor Al David Uy, signed a deed of usufruct to allow the agency in using the one-hectare land where the training center will rise.

The one-storey training facility is now being constructed through a training cum production scheme participated by the scholars who have undergone various construction training courses conducted by TESDA-XI.

With the city relying on its agriculture and tourism industry, TESDA Training Center – IGACOS will be offering trainings like Agri-crop Production NC II, Cookery, Beauty Care, Construction Painting, among other training courses.

Witnessing the empowerment of Sarangani IPs

On Thursday, July 1, 2021, Lapeña traveled to Sarangani Province to witness how the Indigenous People (IPs) in the community of Alegria, one of the villages of Alabel town, spend their market day in Alabel Food Hub – the offshoot of Project IPEACE (Indigenous People Empowered as Agripreneurs towards a Collective End).

Project IPEACE is one of the collaborative initiatives of the TESDA-led Poverty Reduction, Livelihood, and Employment Cluster (PRLEC) of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in the SOCCSKSARGEN Region.

Launched a year ago, Project IPEACE is already on its third phase after the training and immersion, and the establishment of their own food hub which opens every Thursday.

“I want to congratulate all our IP farmers who participated in this food hub. I heard that you have already earned around 450,000 pesos in a span of nine weeks. The food hub became not only a source of food supply, but also a source of livelihood,” Secretary Lapeña told the community during his visit.

The Alabel Food Hub is the first of its kind in SOCCSKSARGEN and PRLEC plans to replicate this in other provinces of the region.

Lapeña is serving as the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security for Region XII (Central Mindanao) which is composed of four provinces: Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Sarangani. ###