Rebel returnees and members of Philippine Army unite, attend Training on Mushroom Production and Processing

Preparing a mushroom bed made out of dried banana leaves was one of the hands-on activities that the participants did during the training. Banana-leaf beds (or rice straw beds) are highly adaptable and inexpensive for growing mushrooms in the rural areas where materials can be sourced out and obtained for free.

Malaybalay City, Bukidnon- Aimed to equip participants with technical knowledge as well as help develop their income-generating skills as they return to the mainstream society, 22 former NPA rebels and some members of Philippine Army attend a skills training on Mushroom Production (Phase I), Processing and Marketing (Phase II). The said training is a collaboration between the Agricultural Training Institute-Regional Training Center X (ATI-RTC X) and the Philippine Army-403rd (Peacemaker) Brigade.

Aside from attaining peaceful coexistence and collaboration with the rebel returnees through farming, more technology and skills training will be given as well as after training support such as spawns of oyster mushrooms and straw mushrooms. Straw mushrooms (Volvariella volvacea), a type of edible tropical mushroom can be grown cheaply using rice straw or banana leaves as bedding material.

“Since most of them are former rebels, this training will help develop their skills as well as give them alternative source of income”, said Colonel Ferdinand T. Barandon INF (GSC) PA, Commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade. Further, he added that some of the participants were also trained in Organic Medicinal Herbs and Spices Production and Utilization last March 4-6, 2020. Col. Birandon is one of the pillars of the "From Arms to Farm" program of ATI and the PA when he was still a Batallion Commander assigned in Lanao del Norte.

OIC-Center Director Maria Lydia A. Echavez encouraged the participants to open their minds to the new knowledge, their hearts for the willingness to learn, and hands to accept new skills. She also encouraged them to share what they have learned not only to their family but to others as well. She hoped that the participants of the training will help attain the Department of Agriculture’s twin goal on “Masaganang Ani at Mataas na Kita”.

Former Center Director Angelito Y. Quirog, Ph.D, Mr. Pedro B. Mariquit, Mr. Numeriano O. Quemado III, Mr. Reynaldo Gil Lomarda (Datu Makadingding), Ms. Cristine A. Galupo, and Ms. Jisa T. Dulay served as the resource person.

The five-day training with proper health protocols and social distancing is scheduled on August 31 to September 4, 2020 at the 403rd Brigade, 4ID, Philippine Army, Camp Osito D. Bahian, Impalambong, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. (with reports from Aden Jade B. Bonggo, HR Designate and Dormitory Manager II)