Digging Deeper, Aiming Higher

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A resident of Poblacion, Dumaran, Palawan, Dennis Aba graduated from the ATI’s Dual Training System Program in Agriculture Entrepreneurship for Out-of-School Youth in September 2013 as part of the first batch of scholars in Palawan.

“With persistence and perseverance, success is possible,” expresses 25-year-old Dennis Abaas he recounts his farming journey.

After finishing high school in 2007, Dennis enrolled in Palawan State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts. After two years in college, he was forced to leave school because of lack of finances to support his studies.
“When I left school, I became a ‘tambay’. I admit that I made lots of pranks during that time,” he smilingly recalls. “It came to a point that I got tired of doing the same things everyday and I realized that I want change. The timing was right as a friend told me that the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) was offering a scholarship grant to out-ofschool youth and I got interested.”

A decision to start again

Despite his apprehensions, he took the qualifying exams for the ATI Scholarship Grant in 2010. “I was informed that I qualified then I decided that this would be my new beginning,” he shares. Dennis was accepted as a scholar in the Diploma in Eco-Farm Tourism and Entrepreneurship (DEFTE) for school year 2011-2013. While in school, he realized the importance of immediately putting into practice the learnings he was gaining. “I saved part of my allowance to buy a native pig which cost P1,000. I raised it myself, applying the knowledge and techniques I gained from school and earned on my own. After four months, I sold it at P4,000,” he narrates. With the exceptional performance he showed in school, Dennis was hired as an assistant instructor and farm technician at Moulding Future Innovators (MFI) Farm Business School in Jala-Jala, Rizal in 2014. “I stayed with MFI for 10 months only because my true passion is in farming. I really wanted to be the boss of my own farm.”

Facing challenges,overcoming risks

Dennis got married in 2015 and, together with his wife, made plans to venture into farming. “We have a one-hectare farmland in Sta. Lourdes, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. What challenged us that time was coming up withthe initial capital. Good thing we were able to borrow money from a foundation. They let us borrow P50,000 and we started from there,” he shares. “Through the scholarship given to me by ATI, with all the trainings and financial support, I gained a lot of knowledge and insights on farming,” he adds. “One of the most important things I learned as a scholar is that farmers feed the world. I have proven that there’s money in agriculture. It increased the income of our family.”

Aiming for greater heights

When asked about his future plans, Dennis reveals, “We’d like to invest more in our farm if given the financial resources. Other than agribusiness, I want to venture into ecofarm tourism. I would like to develop this [farm] as an agri-tourism site and make it a learning site. We are planning the same with our four-hectare farm in Dumaran, Palawan.” With a burning desire to bring positiveimpact to young people, he encourages “Don’t just dream to land a job someday. Study hard and be the one who employs people and creates jobs.”

Story by: Fidelyn C. Agustin

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ATI Today

Extension services continue to evolve. With the challenges that extension workers and farmers face, the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) continues to explore various strategies to improve its efforts as the extension and training arm of the Department of Agriculture. In over 30 years, the ATI has celebrated various successes and learned from the lessons during hard times. Nonetheless, we are proud to be standing the test of time through the support of our partners and the clientele themselves. This is the ATI Today, more committed to bring you extension services beyond boundaries.