2019 Rice Achievers Awards Celebrate Lifelong Service of Industry Champions

Legacy Awardee Santiago Obien stands proud to remain in service for the rice industry as he received recognition in the 2019 Rice Achievers Awards.

DILIMAN, Quezon City—The Department of Agriculture (DA), through its bureaus and attached agencies, capped off this year’s National Rice Awareness Month (NRAM) with the conduct of the 2019 Rice Achievers Awards (RAA) ceremonies.

RAA is an annual event that recognizes the efforts of outstanding rice producers in the Philippines. It is a way of motivating and showing appreciation for institutions, groups, and individuals for their contributions to the food sufficiency thrust.

Durog Irrigators Association from Miag-ao, Iloilo is one of the recipients for the Most Outstanding Small Water Irrigation Systems Association (SWISA) award. Members of the organization, led by their president Fe Rem Ninofranco, expressed their gratitude in a pre-recorded video message.

“I encourage my fellow farmers to give their best and love for farming. They should not wait for the government’s assistance. Rather, [they should] tell the government what they need to improve their well-being,” Ninofranco said.

She also stressed the importance in involving the youth in agriculture for continuous growth in the sector and for the future of next generation.

“I encourage many of you to still engage in farming despite the pandemic and the many issues in agriculture. After all, there is money in farming,” she explained.

Aside from the SWISA category, outstanding irrigators associations (IAs) and provinces were also recognized in the activity. Meanwhile, outstanding municipalities and agricultural extension workers will receive their awards in separate ceremonies to be held locally.

The winning IAs and SWISAs received Php1 million each, while the provinces received Php4 million, both through grants. These will be used to further improve the rice industry in their respective areas.

Aside from the awarded farmers and groups, pioneers of the agriculture sector were also recognized during the event for their efforts and unique contribution to the field.

Senator Cynthia Villar was recognized as a “Champion of Philippine Agriculture”; Monetary Board Member V. Bruce Tolentino received the “Lifetime Contributor Award”; former Philippine Rice Research Institute director Santiago Obien was given the “Legacy Award”; and, DA Assistant Secretary for Operations Andrew Villacorta accepted the “Service Excellence Award”.

Villar expressed her gratitude via pre-recorded video and commended the efforts of Filipino farmers and other stakeholders who play a vital role in the implementation of programs to uplift the agriculture sector. Tolentino also thanked everyone he worked with in the field of agriculture via pre-recorded video.

Obien, meanwhile, talked at the podium on his lifelong commitment and dedication to Filipino rice farmers.

“I devoted the best of my life on rice in support to our rice farmers. I hope that I can live longer so that I can work some more and contribute in achieving the goal of rice self-sufficiency,” he shared.

Lastly, marking his last day in government service after 41 years, Villacorta expressed his optimism to achieve rice self-sufficiency of the country. Through the leadership of Agriculture Secretary William Dar, he looked forward to achieving this goal by 2022 in cooperation with rice farmers, local government units, farmers’ associations, and stakeholders.

Before the event concluded, Agricultural Training Institute Assistant Director Rosana Mula again congratulated the winners and appeal to them to help the DA in improving the lives of the farmers.

“The Rice Achievers show that when it comes to agriculture, impossible is nothing. With your persistence and hard work, our dream of having a food-secure Philippines with prosperous farmers really can be realized. As exemplary farmers, we hope that you will share your learning and experiences to those who aspire to be at your position. Let us be one in pursuing inclusive and sustainable development in the agriculture sector,” Mula said.

The awarding ceremony for the 2019 Rice Achievers recognized the following SWISAs, IAs, and provinces:

Most Outstanding SWISAs

• Association of United Farmers and Irrigators of Duplas, Inc.
• Lucban Small Water Irrigation System Association, Inc.
• Masalipit Small Water Impounding System Association, Inc.
• Durog Irrigators Association
• Pansul United Farmers Association
• Upper Buyogan Small Water Impounding System Association, Inc.

Most Outstanding IAs

• Peñaranda Irrigators’ Association
• Palacati-An Irrigators’ Association, Inc.
• Kasanag Farmers Irrigators Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Inc.
• Evergreen Malamboon Farmers Irrigators’ Association, Inc.
• Poblacion Banaybanay Division A Pilot Irrigators’ Association, Inc.
• Ugasan-Juanico Irrigators’ Association, Inc.
• Tagbawto-Hilusig Communal Irrigators’ Association, Inc.
• Azusano Irrigators’ Association, Inc.
• Taytayan Irrigators’ Association, Inc.
• Kamalaka Irrigators’ Association, Inc.

Most Outstanding Provinces

• Pangasinan
• Ilocos Norte
• Isabela
• Cagayan
• Nueva Ecija
• Bulacan
• Bukidnon
• Zambales
• Lanao del Norte
• Davao Oriental

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