Eight months after typhoon ‘Pablo’ hit Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley, the affected families are earning anew from vegetable farming.

Some 50 families including Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program partner-beneficiaries in Monkayo, Compostela Valley, were initially trained through the Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan (KSK) Farmers Training Program, a four-month vegetable production course.

As a culminating activity of the training, a harvest festival was held. Pantawid parent leaders Rio Albit, Irelina Erhuela and Juanita Gogo, beneficiaries of the KSK Farmers Training Program, happily joined other trainees in selling their fresh crops during the vegetable harvest festival saying, “we feel good and renewed to be involved in this activity.”

Milagrosa Gogo, a trainee, 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.”

Alexander Ypil, 45, of Barangay Tubo-tubo said that he shared his learnings to his neighbors. Ypil proudly showed his farm to the organizers and visitors and even offered them a taste of his very sweet and luscious watermelon.

A one-hectare lot donated by a private individual was used as a demonstration farm.

Employing convergence

Celestino Alla of HarBest Agribusiness Corp. conducted the lectures and hands-on sessions. Among the topics discussed were Nursery Preparation, Seed Sowing, Land Preparation, Caring and Nursing of Seedling, Pruning, Trellis Preparation, Fruit Selection and Fruit Thinning, Pest and Disease Control, Irrigation and Drainage, and Postharvest Technology.

The KSK training demonstrates the external convergence of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), LGU of Monkayo, HarBest Agribusiness Corp., and the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Also integrated in the program was an orientation on the DSWD Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) which covered Self Awareness, Time Management, Financial Literacy, Product Management, Participatory Livelihood, and Value Chain Analysis.

The DSWD and the DA also taught participants Cost Analysis and Return of Investment Analysis.

The local officials of Monkayo expressed their gratitude to DSWD and its partners for their commitment in helping the beneficiaries rise again through the vegetable production training.

Executive Assistant to the Governor Isabelo Melendrez said, “So much lessons learned, making us strive for more and attain more. Now Monkayo will be stable with the coming of these technologies. We can start cultivating idle lands, even with a small area, we can be productive and we can replicate this in other towns.”

Arsenio Barcelona, President of HarBest Agribusiness Corp. urged the farmer-beneficiaries, “Learning new agriculture technologies makes the difference.  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 grow and bear fruit. Let us be a lighted candle that gives light. Let us make our produce visible at SM malls.”

Monkayo Mayor Joselito B. Brillantes, on the other hand, thanked the DSWD and other national agencies, which never failed to bring in relief assistance. “Yet we should not depend on the 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,” the mayor said.

For her part, Secretary Soliman said, “you have accomplished this because of your own efforts and cooperation, and I acknowledge your capability. 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.”