“Maraming salamat sa binibigay na tulong at suporta ng gobyerno dahil hindi namin kayang panindigan mag-isa ang maging pag-asa ng bayan kung kami kami lamang po” – Christine Joy A. Rocapor, President of the Young Farmers 4-H Club of Rosario, La Union.

In order to establish a community hub that will provide the youth entrepreneurial and innovative skills through agriculture, the Department of Agriculture’s “Adopt-A-Youth-Led” program under the Regional Agricultural and Fishery Council (RAFC), in collaboration with the Corn Banner Program, has been continuously extending their support to a youth organization in Rosario, La Union called “Young Farmers 4-H Club of Rosario, La Union”.

Ms. Christine Joy A. Rocapor, president of the Young Farmers 4-H Club of Rosario, La Union, is an officer of the Region 1 4-H Club in the Province of La Union, a licensed agriculturist, an accredited assessor and trainer under TESDA, and currently works in the Rocapor’s Farm as a trainer in various agricultural qualifications.

“Bilang anak ng magsasaka, nakikita ko po yung hirap nila at gusto kong tumutulong sa mga gawaing bukid. Sa kagustuhan ko rin po na matulungan ang aking mga magulang, mga kapwa magsasaka at mga young farmers, kumuha po ako ng kursong agrikultura. Ito ang aking inspiration para makapagtapos ng aking pagaaral.” Christine Joy said.

With her passion and eagerness to assist her fellow farmers, particularly the youth, she founded the Young Farmers 4-H Club in their municipality of Rosario, La Union.

With assistance from the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) and the Volunteer Leaders Association of the Philippines (VLAP), the Young Farmers 4-H Club of Rosario, La Union was founded in 2014. Starting with just 25 members, they grew steadily, eventually reaching the club’s current 100 active members. Since the organization was established, they have become more active by attending seminars and training related to Agriculture.

“Ang 4H club ay binubuo ng in-school youth and out-of-school youth pero karamihan sakanila ay anak ng magsasaka. Bawat member ng aming club ay may kanya kanyang enterprise na kanilang pinagkakakitaan sa kanilang mga sariling lupa”. Members of the club grow a variety of crops, including vegetables, root crops such as cassava and tugi, and livestock such as poultry, pigs, and cows.

Young people between the ages of 15 and 30 who are single, eager to learn about agriculture, and who will actively participate in its various initiatives and activities are welcome to join the club.

As a young farmer organization, they have also participated in various government-supported projects and activities such as community service, tree planting, a clean-up drive along coastal areas, and having a communal garden where the Local Government Unit of Rosario provided their organization a farming lot where they could plant commodities and raise livestock.

They also planted banana mushrooms with the Php2000 they earned from the Php50 membership fee, allowing them to purchase their own pig, of which they now have ten heads.

“Isa sa mga project namin ay yung dispersal ng baboy. Mayroon kaming sampung baboy na pinapaikot at pinapaanak ng member namin. Ang rule ng project namin ay mabigyan ng sariling baboy ang bawat member hanggang sa lahat na ay mabigyan.” The club also owns one cow, which is subject to the same rules as the pigs.

She added that being a member of 4H has advantages. Each member receives a packet of seeds, which they cultivate in their own backyards and then sell to generate extra revenue.

Christine Joy also mentioned the government agencies that assisted in sustaining their organization namely, the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Department of Agriculture (DA), Local Government of Rosario, La Union, Office of the Provincial Agriculturist in La Union, Philippine Rice Research Institute (Philrice), and the National Tobacco Administration (NTA).

While the ATI – RTC 1 also assists this organization by providing trainings to help them broaden their knowledge of possible opportunities in agriculture, the Department of Agriculture also assists in establishing projects, one of which is the Adopt-A-Youth-Led Cassava Processing project launched by the Regional Agricultural and Fisheries Council (RAFC) in collaboration with the Corn Banner Program.

Given how challenging it is to market cassava in Rosario, La Union, the said project is a great opportunity for cassava farmers. The club members had the opportunity to acquire and get training in the preparation of cassava-based treats such puto, cake, polvoron, bibingka, and others which would earn them additional funds in their club as well as allowing them to start their own businesses.

“Napakalaking tulong po ang aming nasalihan sa isa sa mga programa ng Department of Agriculture ang Adopt-A-Youth-Led ng Regional Agricultural and Fishery Council (RAFC) katuwang ang Corn Banner Program kasi dadagdag po ito sa pagkakakitaan ng aming club at pati na rin po sa mga individual business ng bawat member namin kabilang na rin po ang mga farmer na nagtatanim ng cassava.”

The organization also received interventions such as 3 mini ovens, 3 gas burners, 1 steamer, 1 cassava grater, 1 cassava pulverizer, and baking tools and equipment.

“Para sa mga kagaya naming kabataan, huwag kayong magdadalawang isip na subukan na magtanim. Dahil naniniwala po kami na ang agriculture ang pagasa natin para umunlad. Dahil kung wala tayong mga kabataan na tutulong sa mga magsasaka natin, malamang hindi tayo kakain ng tatlong beses sa isang araw.”

The members wish the government would continue to support the Young Farmers 4-H Club of Rosario, La Union, so that they can create livelihood and business opportunities not only for their organization but also for other youth groups in their community through agricultural product innovations.##