Bukidnon family is ‘Gawad Saka’ awardee

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/08 June) – A family from Bukidnon that has ventured into multi-crop farming in their five-hectare property has won the Gawad Saka Most Outstanding Farm Family of the Philippines 2010, an award presented by the Department of Agriculture National Agriculture and Fisheries Council.

The Rosalita family of Lurogan, Valencia City, who advocates against leasing farmlands to plantations is one five from Mindanao to win the award shared by 13 individuals and nine groups.

The award was presented by President Benigno S. Aquino III and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala on May 23, at the Rizal Hall of Malacañan Palace.

Maygrale, one of the two sons of Abias Rosalita, said they started a multi-crop farm because diversifying products is a safeguard against fluctuations in prices and crop failure, the usual risks faced by farmers who only cultivate a single crop.

He said the family had experienced several crop failures especially for corn.

The Rosalitas have shared their technologies of growing several crops at the same time to friends and neighbors. And as advocates of crop diversification they have talked in forums and opened their farm to people who want to learn from them.

Maygrale is among the 18 Filipino scholars who joined the Young Filipino Farmers Training Program in Japan in 2005.

But he said it was his parents who started their farming tradition since they arrived in Valencia in the 1960s.
The family tills an hectare each of cassava, sugarcane, and corn. The remaining two hectares is used for an orchard where they grow 15 fruit varieties including pomelo, papaya, durian, guyabano, and jackfruit.

The family also runs a cut flower business and grows various vegetables. They are a major supplier of the vegetarian canteen at the Mountain View College.

Three of the Rosalitas’ five children have graduated from MVC from sales of vegetables they supply the school.

Aside from growing crops, the Rosalitas raise goats and native chicken, according to the Provincial Agriculture Office, which submitted the family’s nomination documents to the award.

Maygrale said the family members are the ones working on the farm and they would only hire other people during harvest time.

Abias, now 71, and his wife Mercedes, 66, still do farm chores.

Estelita Madjos, deputy provincial agriculture officer, said the family’s experience is a good example in Bukidnon where most farmers prefer to lease their land [to plantations].

She said some farmers who leased their prime agricultural lands still do farming but in forest areas or in the uplands.

The Rosalitas, she added, could help convince local farmers that farming has remained viable amidst the increasing conversion of lands to plantations. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)