School-On-The-Air on Smart Rice Agriculture goes on air in the Regions

The Department of Agriculture (DA), through the Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI) and Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), has officially launched the School-on-the-Air on Smart Rice Agriculture (SOA-SRA) in the different regions in the country.

Dubbed as “PalayAralan: Makabagong Pagsasaka sa Himpapawid”, the SOA-SRA is designed to unify all radio programs of the DA about the cutting edge technologies and groundbreaking approaches and help optimize farm yields in medium and low-yielding provinces while reducing production cost by addressing location and season-specific constraints in the regions.

Targeting 61,500 farmers for the year 2021, the program is designed to enhance modernization of agriculture by sharing knowledge and skills to Filipino rice farmers on modern and innovative technologies of Climate-Smart Rice agriculture.

SOA-SRA is now being aired in all rice growing provinces, prioritizing farmers with less than 4 tons/ha yield. To further strengthen the broadcast of learning materials in the regions, ATI-Regional Training Centers partnered with local radio stations from their respective provinces as well as DA-Regional Field Offices, local government units and other regional offices of partner agencies. As of late May 2021, there are about seven regions that had officially launched the program in the provinces.

ATI Western Visayas is the first region to officially launch and air SOA-SRA last March 16, 2021 with about 7,000 farmers enrolled in the program. With the program’s localized title Palay Eskwelahan: Bag-ong Pagpanguma sa Kahanginan, the ATI RTC VI partnered with local radio stations such as DYKA 801 kHz, DYRI 774 kHz, DYSI 1323 kHz, DYKR 1161 kHz, DYVR 657 kHz, and DYEZ 684 kHz to broadcast the program in the six provinces in the region.

ATI MIMAROPA followed when they officially launched the SOA-SRA last April 5, 2021, with 2,000 enrolled farmers and partnered with three local radio stations namely 101.7 FM Radyo Natin San Jose, 103.3 FM Radyo Natin Sablayan, and Bay FM Mamburao.

ATI Cagayan Valley started its broadcast last May 6, 2021, with 3,000 enrolled farmers and partnered with DWPE 864, DWQP 92.1, DWSI 864, DWRV 1233, and DZDA 105.3 to establish stronger viewership in the region.

Meanwhile, ATI Training Centers in Caraga and Zamboanga Peninsula both officially launched last May 12, 2021. ATI Caraga uses their localized title of Radyo Eskwela: Mag Bag-ong Teknolohiya sa Paghumayan, aiming to reach 3,000 farmers while ATI Zamboanga Peninsula aims to extend their broadcast to 3,000 farmers as well. ATI Caraga partnered with 93.5 FM HOPE Radio while ATI Zamboanga Peninsula united with DXDR 981 Dipolog and aired lessons the next day, May 13th.

In the Bicol region, the ATI Bicol officially launched and aired the program last May 14, 2021 and targeted a total of 5,000 rice farmers. They partnered with local radio stations such as DWEN 100.5 FM, DWFB 96.7 FM, DWAW 99.9 FM, DWAO 95.3 FM, DZIM 98.3 FM, and DWNX 91.1 FM/1611 AM. Lastly, the launching of ATI CALABARZON was held last May 19, 2021. The region targeted 2,500 rice farmers and partnered with CALABARZON’s local radio stations such as DZJV 1458, 95.1 Kiss FM, DWAL 95.9, and DWAL 95.9. ATI Bicol started airing on the same day of launching while ATI Calabarzon started airing lessons on June 7, 2021.

Other regions like the Ilocos Region, Central Luzon, Eastern and Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao, CAR, Davao Region, and SOCCSKSARGEN will soon air the SOA-SRA lessons and officially launch in the second-half of the year.

To create awareness and encourage farmers to adopt and sustain use of the various smart rice technologies is the end-goal of the program. The knowledge that SOA-SRA provides will be an aid in achieving food security and increased livelihood of our farmers.

For more information on the airing schedules, visit ATI website, ATI’s official Facebook page or the official Facebook pages of the ATI Regional Training Centers. # # # (Christine Joyce B. Velez / DA-ATI)

Cacao Enterprise Expands Maragusan Coop Operations

Every quality tablea produced by the Maragusan Multipurpose Cooperative (MAMPCO) carries with it a beautiful story of hard work and success.

MAMPCO, which started as a small cooperative with only a few members 50 years ago, has now grown to an organization with almost 4000 members.

In 2010, they decided to get into the production and marketing of cacao fermented beans with a dream of expanding into tablea production to help more cacao farmers achieve a stable source of income.

To make this dream a reality, MAMPCO applied for enterprise development support from the Department of Agriculture Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP) provided MAMPCO through the PhP2.51 million “Tablea Processing and Marketing Enterprise” subproject.

The interventions provided by PRDP to MAMPCO included one unit tablea processing building, roaster, cracker, grinder, stainless molding equipment, chiller, vacuum sealer, air conditioning unit, and other inputs for tablea processing.

Almost three years since the completion of the subproject, the beneficiaries from MAMPCO said that the tablea processing center has made a big impact to their cooperative when it comes to value adding of cacao beans, and generating additional income for their farmer members.

According to MAMPCO manager Armando Escuadro, their cacao farm expanded after PRDP provided their processing building and equipment followed by an increase in the number of their farmer members.

“We started with only 70 farmer-members with a production area of around 70 hectares dedicated to cacao,” said Escuadro. “But with the help of PRDP our production area has expanded to 156 hectares and the number of our cacao farmers has doubled.”

MAMPCO is currently producing around 3,800 kilograms of fermented cacao beans per month. Their institutional buyer, Kennemer Foods International Inc., gets 70% of their produce while the remaining 30% goes to their tablea processing. From this they can make an average of 800kgs of chocolate tablets per month.

In a day, they can make two batches of 222 packs of tablea with each pack containing 100 grams. This is the result of the processing equipment that helped them fast track their processing and ensure a good quality tablea in the end.

Through PRDP, other agencies were also able to provide support to MAMPCO expanding their market and allowing them to tie-up with their institutional buyers. Some of these agencies and institutions were Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Provincial Agriculture Office (PAGRO)of Davao de Oro, Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao (CIDAMI), and more recently, the Foundation for Sustainable Society, Inc. which will partner with them for their planned expansion of their production area to another 100 hectares including establishment of agri-tourism and farm resort.

Engrasio Detomal Jr, one of the farmer members of MAMPCO, said that the buying price for cacao really increased and many farmers were motivated to go back into farming because MAMPCO acted as a sure buyer of cacao wet beans.

“When I started farming, the price of wet beans was at P25 to 28 per kilo. But now we can sell it at P32 to 35 pesos. In fact, many farmers here are working again in their cacao farms because they know that we have MAMPCO as a sure buyer of our beans, and they give us a good price,” said Detomal.

This enterprise subproject also generated additional jobs to some of the unemployed family members of some of the cooperative members.

A year after she was hired, tablea processor Rose Villa Amores has already mastered the steps in processing the cacao beans into finely ground tableya, “With my income here, I am able to support our family’s daily consumption and send my children to school,” Amores said.

MAMPCO continued its operation amidst the pandemic and despite the disruption and challenges they encountered,  they were still able to secure their Certificate of Product Registration and passed the requirement of the Food and Drug Administration.

To date, they are already distributing their tablea nationwide through local couriers at a cash-on-delivery basis.

MAMPCO is now planning to release new products within the year such as cacao nibs, chocolate, and cocoa powder. They are also crafting new proposals under the additional financing 2 (AF-2) of PRDP which would include a delivery van, additional equipment, refinery grinder, and a printing machine to customize their label.


As MAMPCO committed to sustain the project and to continually help their members, especially their cacao farmers, they decided to come up with an idea of taking over the farm management of cacao farms whose owners decided to discontinue farming or are having a hard time managing their farm areas.

The strategy is to rent the farm to make use of it while introducing a diversified farming system and provide 3-in-1 support which include financial, technical, and marketing assistance in order to sustain the farm. Upon the expiration of the rental, they will turn-over the farm back to the owner already fully developed.

The cooperative also hired additional production technicians to supervise their farmers in increasing their harvest and to reach their target of P2000 kilograms of dried beans per hectare. # # # (Joy M. Montecalvo / DA-PRDP PSOMin)

Photo captions:  1. Hired tablea processors of MAMPCO packing the tablea (DA- PRDP)

SAAD Layer Chicken Project Orientation conducted in Sulu

The Department of Agriculture – Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) conducted another project orientation for Layer Chicken project for 20 farmers in Barangay Lumping Pigi Daho, municipality of Talipao, Sulu Province on June 7, 2021.

The orientation is aimed at equipping the project recipients the technical know-how of layer chicken raising and egg production.

Brgy. Chairman Sakur H. Hassan expressed appreciation to SAAD, saying, “We are so glad that there’s such thing as Project orientation for Layer Chicken Project for our farmers since this Egg Production project is still new to our farmers, this can help them understand how to manage the project.”

According to   Analisa Dauring, SAAD Area Coordinator of Talipao the orientation is conducted by batch and per area, since the project recipients are located separately in different barangays.

While the beneficiaries wait for the delivery, they are provided with vegetable seeds to establish their own backyard gardens.

“DA-SAAD provided 40 packs of the “Pakbet” and “Sinigang” vegetable seeds to our farmers here in Lumping Pigi Daho. The vegetable seeds are good start for the new farmer beneficiary and this can help them earn income until the egg machine arrive in their barangay,”Dauring said. # # # (Shara Malaica Ussam / DA-RFO IX, SAAD)