December 8, 2013 – “Even though our hands are already shaking because we are old, our minds are still sharp and willing to learn,” says Melecio Palma, Barangay Captain of Bacneng, Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya, and now a graduate of the Farm Business School (FBS).
Following its launching in eleven municipalities in Nueva Vizcaya, the FBS began to revolutionize the outlook of the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) towards managing their awarded farm lands, from a toilsome farm labor into a rewarding business enterprise of which they are the owners.
Over 200 ARBs in Nueva Vizcaya who graduated from the FBS were taught fundamental farmer’s skills and competencies in business while improving their knowledge, changing their attitudes towards farming as a business and producing for the market.
Marcela Tulian of Balete, Sta. Fe, NV is another graduate of FBS who ventures on vegetable farming to maximize her farm lot. She admits learning for the first time the effective business techniques to properlymanage her produce as it goes out in the market.
The ARBs were also introduced to the importance of recording inputs, costing and labor, planning, timing of planting, cash flows, packaging of products, market surveys, review and selling of products – rare competencies to be found in afarmer beneficiary.
As a pilot project of the Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Food & Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Organization, implemented in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Nueva Ecija, the graduate-ARBs were the first batch to be trained under the FBS.
The following municipalities have finished their first batch of graduates:
Kayapa Barangay Pingkian (October 11, 2013)
Dupax del Sur Barangays Sanggit and Banila (November 22, 2013)
Santa Fe Barangay Bacneng and Bantinan (November 28, 2013)
Aritao Barangay Yaway (December 16, 2013)
Solano Barangay Bagahabag (December 17, 2013)
Quezon Barangays Nalubbunan and Boliwao (December 17, 2013)
Kasibu Barangay Lupa (December 13, 2013)
Dupax del Norte Barangay Binuangan (November 22, 2013)
Ambaguio Barangays Poblacion and Tiblac (January 15, 2013)
Mr. Heiko Bammann, a representative of the FAO United Nations Headquarters in Rome, Italycrossed distant waters to witness the first graduation rites of the FBS to be held in the country.
Bamman tells ARBs: “The most important is that you can stand up and speak up to your buyers. Your knowledge on business is broadened and you speak the language, you can set-up and negotiate much better..” He further said that the buyers are in no position to scare the ARBs as farm producers.
Mr. Gomer Tumbali, FAO Specialist, agrees that the ARBs will greatly benefit once they apply their learnings in the next cropping season. He adds further that the marketing skills taught to the ARBs will ensuregood packaging which adds quality to their crops.
DAR PARPO II Primo C. Laracalls the FBS graduation as rather a ‘commencement exercise’ earmarking a new chapter of farming system for Nueva Vizcayan ARBs to improve their crop production and income.”
One of the Development Facilitators, Mrs. Fe B. Lacbayansaid that after finishing FBS, theARBs from Bgy. Bagahabag, Solano, NV immediatelypracticed group selling at the local market. “Their dream is to market their products at a larger scale such as in Divisoria orthe oriental market.”
“This month of March, all of them will plant sweet potato and hopefully they could find a market. On February 8, 2014, they will be launched as Organized Vegetable Producers at Heroes Memorial Park, Solano, Nueva Vizcaya and they will be selling their products every Saturday and Sunday on the same place. This will be their official market,” Lacbayan said.
Even after graduation, the ARBs are set continue with regular discussions and forums even after finishing the FBS program to further improve their farm management skills and knowledge.
Meanwhile, the second batch of students is arranged to start with theFBS on April 2014for the ARBs in the remaining Barangays in Nueva Vizcaya.
The Municipal Mayors and their representatives also gave their commitments to support the graduates and the second batch of the FBS program.
On the other hand, DA Provincial Agriculturist Mr. Alex Domingo pledged to provide logistics to the second batch of FBS for the program to further proliferatein the province. (Zeny G. Balauag)