Extension service is not about money. It’s about working and helping others to achieve their success. Recognition is just a bonus.”
This is the statement of John Belamide, an agricultural extension worker (AEW) in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro and 2014 National Winner for Agri-Pinoy Rice Achiever’s Award in AEW category.
With his numerous accomplishments, he was again chosen as the Regional Agri-Pinoy Rice Achiever’s Awardee for AEW in 2014 along with his assisted farmer in the Gawad Saka Award for Rice. At last, he was then recognized in the national level when he won the 2014 Agri-Pinoy Rice Achievers’ Award as an Outstanding AEW. The recognition inspired him to level up his effort as an AEW. “John is diligent in his work and he knows how to get along with people especially with farmers. He deserves to receive various awards,” Evelyn Cabalbag, Agriculturist II and his immediate supervisor, shares.
John was employed in the Municipal Agricultural Office of Sablayan in 2002 as a
Report Officer under the High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP). He was later designated as HVCDP Focal Person from 2009 to 2012. When the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) Regional Training Center MIMAROPA conducted a four-month SeasonLong Training of Trainers on Integrated Pest Management on Vegetable Production in 2012, he was one of the participants. John said that during the training, he learned alot—from the technical aspects to extension delivery system and facilitation. “I thought, as long as you are an expert in your
field of specialization, it’s enough. However, during our Season Long [training], that was the time I realized that aside from technical expertise, extension delivery system is equally important in my work because it’s how you deal with people to disseminate information and transfer technologies," John narrates.
After the training, he was more inclined and inspired to serve his community. Among his target participants were Mangyan communities and prisoners from the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm. Aside from providing technical assistance, he also served as resource speaker and facilitator in various commodities.
“I opt to help them out because they are the ones who needed the reformation and programs the most,” he justifies. According to him, at first, he had a hard time delivering the extension services in his area of assignment due to lack of resources. As much as he wanted to serve, he cannot do so because of insufficient support from the local government unit. Hence, to sustain his projects with his beneficiaries, he approached some government agencies and nongovernment organizations for support and financial assistance.
Recognizing His Efforts
With his accomplishments, he won the
Regional Achiever’s Award in AEW Category and was nominated for the National Achiever’s Award, but, unfortunately, did not win. The said failure did not discourage him but challenged and refueled his desire to exert more efforts to serve their clients. He prepared and submitted proposals to the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office MIMAROPA and other funding agencies which were fortunately approved and funded.
Among his initiated proposals which were funded and implemented were the provisions of various farm machineries, circulating dryer, farm-to-market road, and rice mill for farmers which greatly help his constituents. He was able to push the establishment of tramlines for the Mangyan farmers to easily transport their products from upland to lowland areas. He also strengthened rural-based organizations (RBOs) in their barangays, organized more farmers’ associations and conducted several Farmers’ Field Schools
(FFSs). John said that one of the reasons why his FFSs were successfully implemented was because of his motivation to the participants.
“I always tell them that if they want to give brighter future to their family, they have to apply the technologies they have learned from the FFS and invest their yields for their children’s education,” he states with conviction.
Moreover, John, as an AEW, has become a constant partner of ATI MIMAROPA in conducting trainings and other related activities in the municipality of Sablayan. During the School-on-the-Air (SOA) on Organic Agriculture conducted by ATI MIMAROPA last 2014, John was one of the active coordinators who had the highest number of graduates in the program. He also initiated the inclusion of inmates of Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm in the SOA which opened the way for various rehabilitation programs for inmates coming from different government agencies.
Working Beyond His Job
Today, one of John’s advocacies is to helpthe youth who are interested and have the passion in farming to enroll in agriculture related courses. He constantly seeks for funding institutions to grant scholarships for deserving youths. Though, it is not part of his
job, he believes that there are lots of youth who have potentials to develop further the agriculture industry.
“People think that if you are in the agriculture industry, your job is just to farm and simply produce food. Little did they know that we, in the agriculture sector, have the greatest contribution in the economy of our country,” John proudly declares.
John excitedly shared that the geo-resistivity survey project that he has been working, in collaboration with the Bureau of Soils and Water Management, was a big success. The Sablayenos, particularly in Sablayan South, have already started planting for the second cropping season of 2016 since they have now sufficient supply of water as a result of the project.
At present, John is handling projects such as Rice Crop Manager, Participatory Variety Selection Green Super Rice, Participatory Variety Selection of Next Generation Rice, PRiSM, and Geotagging.
With John’s achievements, he proves that everyone can touch other’s lives and make a difference even in a little way.
“For me, being an AEW is a very noble and satisfying profession. Yes, our salary is not high, sometimes our personal money is used just to deliver quality extension services to our clients but the feeling that you can help and change people’s lives is fulfilling and rewarding,” John humbly expresses.
Story by: Jezell dT. dela Cruz