Fresh produce of ‘Pablo’ families.

OLAYCON, Monkayo  -Some 154 professional and non-professional farmer-beneficiaries who are all Typhoon Pablo victims and whose livelihood was heavily affected gathered anew first week of August to mark the 2nd Harvest Festival of the Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan (KSK) Farmers’ Training Program

The 2nd Harvest Festival on August 2 served as the highlight during the observance of the 59th Araw ng Barangay Olaycon. The 1st Harvest Festival was held last May 2 right before the graduation rites on May 3 at SM Lanang Premier where they brought in and showcased their produce.

Now on its 6th year, KSK is spearheaded by SM Foundation, Inc., this time, in partnership with LGU Monkayo, HarBest Agribusiness Corp., DA and DSWD.  The 48th batch of KSK started in February 2013 with participants coming from 10 barangays of Monkayo.

From February to May, the vegetable production course ran for 12 Tuesdays and covered one module per meeting. Celestino Alla of HarBest Agribusiness Corp. conducted the lectures in the morning while afternoons were slated for hands on sessions. Among the topics discussed were Nursery Preparation, Seed Sowing, Land Preparation, Caring & Nursing of Seedling, Pruning, Trellis Preparation, Fruit Selection and Fruit Thinning, Pest and Disease Control, Irrigation & Drainage, and Postharvest Technology.

Integrated in the training course is the orientation on the DSWD Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) focused on Community Driven Enterprise Development approach which covers Self Awareness, Time Management, Financial Literacy, Product Management, Participatory Livelihood Issue Analysis, and Value Chain Analysis. DSWD and DA also taught participants Cost Analysis and Return of Investment Analysis.

The one-hectare demonstration farm for the high-value crop production in Barangay Olaycon was donated by the Brillantes family. Managed by the recent KSK graduates, the farm grows fruits and vegetables like watermelon, corn, lettuce, stringed beans, ampalaya, kangkong, eggplant, tomato, squash, honeydew, cucumber, gourd, cantaloupe, and bell pepper.

At least 50 Pantawid Pamilya families participated in the training who also sold their fruit and vegetable produce at the Barangay Market Market. Pantawid Parent Leaders Rio Albit, Irelina Erhuela and Juanita Gogo happily joined other Pantawid grantees in selling their fresh crops during the annual barangay fair, saying, they feel good and renewed to be involved in this activity.

Meanwhile, a number of participants have already started transferring the farming technology in their respective barangays. Alexander Ypil, 45, of Barangay Tubo-tubo have taught 54 individuals and they are now harvesting their crops. Ypil proudly showed his farm to the organizers and visitors and even offered them a taste of his very sweet and luscious watermelon.

Recipient Milagrosa Gogo said the program is a big help to her family and this was confirmed by fellow participants Rea Dulay, Perlita Morala and Lea Rim, adding, “We are trying to get back to our normal lives with our children at school and we are coping despite the hardships.”

In her message, Cristie S. Angeles, Asst. Vice President for Outreach Program and Livelihood of SM Foundation, Inc. stressed that indeed public-private partnership (PPP) is working and very much possible. She said Olaycon is blessed because of good governance. “I can see a better, healthier and happier tomorrow for your community.”

Training participant and Olaycon Barangay Chair Janet B. Diel happily announced that the graduates have been recently organized into Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan Vegetable Production Association. “We are overwhelmed with the support we are getting from different agencies and offices. We urged everyone to visit Olaycon and buy our products. ”

Mayor Joselito B. Brillantes proclaimed there is sunshine after every storm, attributing their bout and triumph over Typhoon Pablo. “However, we still need the support of national agencies for us to continue moving forward. I would like to thank DSWD and other national agencies which never failed to bring in relief assistance. Yet we should not depend on dole out but must be self-sufficient and self-reliant. Now, we are also conducting seminars on animal dispersal which provides us more opportunities for recovery.” Addressing the community, Brillantes thanked them for their resilience to trials, pointing out, “Nothing is impossible if we just work hard.”

DA Assistant Director Bernadette San Juan emphasized to recipients, “This day proves your stability and endurance as a community.”

HarBest Agribusiness Corp. President Arsenio Barcelona urged the farmer-beneficiaries, “Learning new agriculture technologies makes the difference. Farmers have lots of opportunities because we all consume food.  Let us share what we learn and make the lives of others better. Every celebration is an opportunity to start a better life. Let us be seedlings that can germinate and grow and bear fruit. Let us be a lighted candle that gives light. Let us make Olaycon a brand that will be known all over the country. Let us make our produce visible at SM malls.”

“You have accomplished this because of your own efforts and cooperation and I acknowledge your capability. Let us continue working together and helping others in need, teach them the new farming technologies. Let’s produce quality products and fetch right value for them. We will help link you up with possible local markets and with government programs that require your produce like the Supplementary Feeding Program and more.” This was the challenge and assurance of DSWD Livelihood Director Georgina Hernandez.

DSWD Poverty Reduction Bureau Director Honorita Bayudan reminded beneficiaries to always put food on the table for the family first and ensure good health of each member before selling the extra to the neighbors or local market. “I am glad that I now see Monkayo rising up. I can sense the dynamism and productiveness of the LGU and NGAs.”

Director Priscilla N. Razon of DSWD said in her message, “We will not go hungry in Monkayo because of the vegetables and the productiveness of the people plus the community has the resources. The real spirit of public-private partnership is manifested here. What has been accomplished here is the result of PPP where collaboration and coordination exist. With this program, we were able to transform lives while food security is ensured. We can replicate this in other areas. Indeed, you have stood up and risen from the ruins. DSWD will continue to provide technical inputs and guidance as you move forward.”

Earlier, DSWD turned over to Monkayo LGU a total of P 11,300,000.00 Cash For Work check and a P 90,000.00 educational assistance for nine students of Monkayo. DSWD