Niche above the Notch

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PUGO, La Union - Everything was set, and everybody was on their way when PAGASA broadcasted at 1:00 a.m. on August 28 that a tropical storm named Jenny has landed the Aurora Province and expected to bring strong wind and heavy rain affecting Ilocos Region.

One by one called in, declining confirmations to the 6th Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Network (RAFEN) 1 Symposium set on August 28-29 at Kultura Splash Wave Resort, Pugo, La Union. In spite of the broadcast from PAGASA, the two-day activity was still pursued and was graced by 250 agriculture and fisheries extension (AFE) stakeholders from the region.

The delegates of the symposium were composed of RAFEN 1 members, agricultural extension workers from the provincial and local government units (LGUs), members of the Samahang Itinataguyod ang Kaunlaran ng Agri-Turismo sa Rehiyon Uno, Inc. (1 SIKAT), and the beneficiaries of the RAFEN 1 Convergence Initiative or Timpuyog Program.

With the theme, “Inclusive and Sustainable Agriculture and Fisheries Extension: An Evolving Niche of RAFEN Uno”, the event aimed to showcase outcomes of partnership between and among AFE key players, as well as their converged interventions in the community.

In response to the objective of this two-day activity, highlights of the Convergence Initiative Program of RAFEN 1 dubbed as “Timpuyog Idiay Away, Dur-as Inna Iburay” or in Tagalog, “Damayan sa Barangay, Ginhawa Ibibigay”, was presented through a video presentation. Also, Agricultural Training Institute-Regional Training Center I (ATI-RTC I) Assistant Center Director, Dr. Melinda Mangabat, discussed the initial result of the initiative program. She mentioned that details of the result of the program will be packaged and distributed in the coming months of 2019.

Presentations of best extension projects in papers/oral, and posters were also done by the RAFEN member-agencies and the LGUs, which served as learning venues for the delegates. Likewise, the symposium included the launching of the RAFEN 1 Book of Impressions and Subject Matter Specialists, and Product Exhibits of 1 SIKAT and the Timpuyog Program beneficiaries.

Dr. Florentina Dumlao, Consultant at the Cagayan State University and Former President at the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University and Nueva Vizcaya State University, was invited as the Keynote Speaker.

“RAFEN should play at the center of different activities conducted for economic, environmental, as well as social programs, and projects”, Dr. Dumlao stated during her speech.

Dr. Dumlao also emphasized that capacity building is very important to farmers and fisher folks as it could provide them a longer life of expectancy and decent way of living, and this is one of the accountability of each AFE key player.

Meanwhile, ATI-RTC 1 Center Director, Dr. Rogelio Evangelista, delivered a message as he represented ATI Director Alfredo Aton. Dr. Evangelista mentioned the upcoming Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Project (RCEP), wherein some of the RAFEN member-agencies will play a big role in the realization of this intervention to the rice farming communities.

Regional and provincial personalities graced the symposium. These included DA-RFO I Regional Technical Director for Operations, Dr. Erlinda Manipon; Pugo, La Union Municipal Mayor Priscilla Martinez; La Union Provincial Agriculturist, Col. Ramon Laudencia; Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU) President Jaime Manuel, Jr; La Union Provincial Governor Francisco Emmanuel Ortega III; and, DA-RFO I Regional Executive Director Lucrecio Alviar, Jr., who sent their high-esteemed representatives to deliver their messages during the opening program.

The conduct of this year’s symposium has been a challenging one because of the unforeseen weather disturbance. However, it was peacefully and successfully concluded. The AFE network in the Ilocos Region will continuously and boldly venture another highlight in the next symposium.