A total of 2,582 farmers from 33 municipalities/cities in Region 1 received certificates of completion of the School on-the-Air on Smart Rice Agriculture (SOA-SRA) program with the theme “Makabagong Pagsasaka a Himpapawid” in a mass graduation held by the Agricultural Training Institute-Regional Training Center (ATI-RTC) 1 on August 4, 2023, at the Urdaneta City Cultural & Sports Center, Urdaneta, Pangasinan.

Sison farmer Mr. Rolando Parrocha topped this year’s SOA-SRA graduation and received a medal, certificate, and a Php5,000 cash award, while Ms. Jhonadelle Delfinado from Asingan, Pangasinan was named top 2 performer.

Mr. Romeo Espejo of Bayambang, Pangasinan was named as the top 3 performer, followed by Ms. Aida Ingel of Sinait, Ilocos Sur and Mr. Erwin Pidlaoan of Urbiztondo, Pangasinan as top 4 performers.

The other 5 top performers (with honors) include

1. Mary-Ann D. Balonggo – Currimao, Ilocos Norte

2. Jovelyn B. Rodulfo – Burgos, Pangasinan

3. Leankin M. Jude – Pozorrubio, Pangasinan

4. Ricardo N. Cueva – Binalonan, Pangasinan

5. Kares Ostil-Principe – Bani, Pangasinan

According to a message delivered by DA-RFO1 Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Information Section (RAFIS) Chief Ms. Vida Cacal, the Ilocos region achieved a 4% increase in rice sufficiency level in 2022, from 177% rice sufficiency in 2021 to 181% rice sufficiency in 2022, all thanks to the contributions and efforts made by the empowered SRA-SOA graduates.

“Every year may mga makabagong teknolohiya kaya napakahalaga po na maki-ayon tayo sa panahon, sa paglinang ng inyong mga kakayahan at kaalaman sa larangan ng teknolohiya. Kasi ito ang inyong magiging sandata para lalong mapalago ang inyong produksyon.” Said Ms. Cacal.

The program’s goal is to equip small-scale farmers with essential knowledge, advanced technologies, and assistance from various rice industry stakeholders in order to enable comprehensive and continuous education in the field of smart rice agriculture.

The graduation ceremony was graced by ATI-RTC 1 Center Director Dr. Rogelio Evangelista, together with DA-RFO1 RAFIS Chief Ms. Vida Cacal, representative of DA-RFO1 Regional Executive Director Dr. Annie Bares, Pangasinan Provincial Agriculturist Ms. Dalisay Moya, Atty. Lily Tadeo, from the City Agriculture Office of Urdaneta, OIC-Assistant Provincial Agriculturist of La Union Ms. Sharon Viloria, representative of La Union Governor Raphaelle Veronica Ortega-David.

Also present to give support were Municipal Agriculturists Mr. Benjamin Magno of Aringay, La Union, Ms. Minerva Rosas of Asingan, Pangasinan, Ms. Regina Labiano of Bangar, La Union, Ms. Cleofe Martinez of Binalonan, Pangasinan, Ms. Jean Manzano of Santiago, Ilocos Sur, Mr. Randy Reburon of Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur, Ms. Marivic Dacpano of Sison, Pangasinan, and Ms. Julie Ann Quilates of Urbiztondo, Pangasinan.

Counting this year’s graduates, there are currently a total of 7,868 rice farmers in the Ilocos region, including the first and second batches, who are now equipped with the new technologies in rice production.