Top Philippine Farmers of 2014 honored at TOFARM Awards

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Launch of Photo and Indie Film Contest for Farmers 

The best farmers from various parts of the country will be feted in TOFARM AWARDS 2015 – the third consecutive Outstanding Farmers of the Philippines (TOFARM) recognition awards staged by Universal Harvester Inc. 

The yearly awards honors the country’s top agricultural groups and individuals who have imparted valuable contributions to their families, communities, provinces, and the country as a whole through best agricultural practices, innovations, initiatives and systems. The recognition awards will be held at the Rizal Ballroom of the Makati Shangri-La Manila. 

“It is an initiative begun in the 1970’s by the then Philippine Jaycees that has been reinvented to recognize the resiliency, ingenuity and strength of our hardworking Filipino farmers. This is open to all Filipino farmers, fisherfolk, animal raisers, cooperatives, farm communities, organizations, education/academe, agriculture scientist, LGUs and public employees, and business entities in rural and urban areas,” said Rommel Cunanan, TOFARM Project Director. 

Candidates for Best Farmer, Fisherfolk, Woman Farmer, Livestock Farmer, Young Farmer, Agri-Innovator, Urban City Farmer, Agri-Entrepreneur  make up the individual awards category, while candidates for Family Farmer, Agri-Cooperative, Agri-Initiative and Local Government Unit  make up the group awards category.

Besides the awards to be received in the various categories, Farmer of the Year honors will be given to the most outstanding among the awardees. Winners in each category will receive gold or silver plaques plus cash prizes. 

The TOFARM Awards wants to refocus attention on the importance and viability of agriculture as an industry and a lucrative profession, Cunanan added. The program, he said, had grown by leaps and bounds since its re-introduction in 2012. Besides recognizing the achievements and contributions made by farmers to Philippine society and the economy, the program has also extended real help to farmers by providing them with education opportunities, livelihood initiatives, farm inputs assistance, income earning schemes and observation (lakbay-aral) tours abroad.

In 2013, the program went beyond the award system. Several regional and provincial promotions were conducted nationwide, coupled with Family Financial Management seminars for the Farmers. Alongside these promotions are domestic and international lakbay-aral tours in areas with advanced agricultural practices. Expanding further in the last part of 2013 and early 2014 is the implementation of the “Adopt-a-Farmer” program, this was massively initiated in the Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) stricken areas. Agriculture communities were adopted to support their effort “BACK-TO-FARM” (Balik-Saka) and facilitate their early rehabilitation. The program is now in Laguna, spearheading our effort in the Luzon area, further escalating in Mindanao this 2015. These newly revitalized communities are called TOFARM Villages, which are given assistance, from agricultural production to marketing, and personal finance management.

Dr. Milagros Ong-How, Executive Vice President of UHI with the awardees

Dr. Milagros Ong-How, Executive Vice President of UHI who has been recognized by academic institutions, local and international award-giving bodies for her contributions to agriculture, echoed the sentiment of TOFARM to help Filipino farmers as a whole, and especially those who have faced challenges, setbacks and oftentimes oppressive realities of their farming livelihoods.

“Through TOFARM we want them to know that they are not alone. Their work is being recognized, their contributions are being acknowledged, and we stand with them in their continuous struggle to obtain their basic needs,” Dr. How said.

Every year, TOFARM tries to create better awareness for the plight of Filipino farmers and seek support for their advancement. In 2013 TOFARM launched a Photo and Video Contest that showcases the ingenuity and resiliency of the farmers. This year TOFARM is launching an Indie Film Festival with the Filipino farmer and Philippine agriculture as its focal point.

For more information about TOFARM, visit www.tofarm.org

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