Help is Wealth: Reaching Out Through SOA

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Success story of a School On-the-Air (SOA) farmer-graduate

“Knowledge is not enough, it should be put into practice or applied”, Maning smiles bashfully when he made this encouraging remark during the Mass Graduation of School on-the-Air on Palayamanan on Integrated Nutrient Management (INM) at Felis Resort Complex, Matina Aplaya, Davao City.

Mariquito Tejada Llevado, fondly called “Maning” by his friends and relatives, 45 years old, married with three (3) kids and an industrious farmer. He and his family reside at Barangay Camanchilles, Matanao, Davao del Sur where he engaged his farming activities.

Before he enrolled in School-on-the-Air (SOA) way back in 2003, his method of farming was “traditional” because he learned from his parents who were traditional farmers. At a young age, he helped his parents in farming since it was their only means of livelihood.

However, when he started joining SOA in 2003, he came to know and realized that there are new ways to do farming using the latest technologies. He thought all the while that his parents’ old practices and ways in farming was the only way to do it. He first attended the SOA Mass Graduation Ceremony in Kapitan Tomas Elementary School, at Ponciano, Davao City, where the Agricultural Training Institute-Regional Training Center-XI (ATI-RTC-XI) was the co-sponsor of the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office XI (DA-RFO-XI). At that time, the Keynote Speaker was the late Secretary Escudero of the Department of Agriculture.

He reminisces happily that it was during that first SOA Mass Graduation he attended where he met his first cousins. From then on, he continued enrolling in SOA courses whenever a SOA is being conducted by the DA and ATI, until the SOA was conducted solely by the ATI-RTC-XI starting 2007.

As a farmer, he was worried of his farm inputs because it is very expensive to buy certified seeds, fertilizer and other things necessary in adopting the new technology in farming.

Despite the odds in having financial problem for his farming, he did not lose hope. He continously studied through SOA, without failing to enroll in any SOA courses that the ATI-RTC-XI implemented region-wide.

What inspired him the most was his wife also supported him by enrolling in SOA too, which was an advantage to both of them, because what he learned in SOA is the same learning and insights that his wife has learned, and they both applied the technology in their farm.

Likewise, being SOA alumni, they joined the SOA graduates Alumni association called the University On-the-Air Alumni Association Incorporated (UOAAAI) where among their membership priviliges is a Monthly Seminar on the latest technologies on various crops, commodities, livestock and poultry conducted as part of their commitment to the capability building of their farmer members/SOA graduates.

Both Maning and his wife were very consistent in attending the monthly seminar scheduled every 3rd Friday of every month. Their training venue is at the Jimmy Aguilar Training Center, Dumoy, Toril, Davao City.

Their exposure to SOA paved a way for them to get aquainted and become closer to the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAG) of Davao del Sur and their Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO) in Matanao. This gave them opportunities to attend the trainings conducted by either the OPAG and MAO. Among those trainings was the Farmer Fied School (FFS) on Corn of which he became the team leader of their area.

He smiled when he said, “The problem on fertilizer was resolved because I learned to formulate and prepare my own Organic Fertilizer. Regardig my needs for Certified Seeds, I just go to MAO’s office and if they have available certified seeds, I go home with Certified Seeds given by them as their support to my farm”.

“I am so thankful for joining in SOA because it helped me connect to MAO in our town, and to OPAG in our province. SOA has indeed helped me in my farming activities,” he added.

According to him, if he was affected by hardship, still he was happy that God guided him and his family in their endeavors.

He mentioned to his fellow SOA graduates that he can sleep well on his back because he has solved the needs in his farming and the need of his family.

He challenged his fellow SOA graduates with this, “ A farmer needs formula for him to succeed in farming, an the formula is being industrious and hardworking.”

Being grateful to all that has contributed to his success, which he made mentioned especially the ATI-RTC-XI which conduct religiously SOA for the farmers of Region XI, to the DA being the umbrella agency of ATI, who had greatly helped in his good farming practices, to Mr. Frank Endaya, whose energy as farmcaster for SOA and the ATI regular monthly radio program, have enable him to gain more knowledge in farming, to Ms. Rhoda E. Austria, the SOA Regional Coordinator who is implementing the activity and who is fondly called and known as the “SOA Queen”, the DXGM Super Radyo for the daily broadcast of SOA and montly radio program, aired every 4:00am-4:30, Monday to Saturday for the past many years until now, and to all his classmates in SOA, “ Thank you so much to all of you”, he concluded his remark.