• TOFARM 2014 LAUNCH Dr. Milagros O. How and Project Director Rommel M. Cunanan joins JCI Philippines’ Area V for the national launching of TOFARM. Together with the 2013 JCI Philippines National President Ryan Ravanzo and 2012 National President Randolf Ivan Ruste, the committee ensures that more farmers shall encouraged to participate through the concerted efforts of the current JCI membership.

  • Agricultural Cooperatives, local farmers, and special guests attended the TOFARM launch.

  • Project Director Rommel M. Cunanan starting the program for the 2014 launch before the participating farmers.

JCI and Universal Harvester launch TOFARM 2014 in Mindanao

The Philippine Jaycees (JCI Philippines) through its Mindanao chapters of Area V and Universal Harvester, Inc. (UHI) launched its third consecutive search for outstanding Filipino farmers today (January 24) at the Astoria Plaza, Grand Astoria Hotel in Zamboanga City.

UHI and JCI Mindanao signed a Memorandum of Agreement to sustain the prestigious recognition program for the most noteworthy achievers in various categories of the farming sector.

Now launched in Mindanao to focus more closely on farmers in their fields,  the program underscores the very important role that the farming sector plays in the lives of majority of Filipinos, the health of the economy, and the pursuit of overall nutrition via food sufficiency.

Just like TOFARM 2012 and 2013, TOFARM 2014 aims to inspire more young people to turn to agriculture as a livelihood. Even as TOFARM 2013 succeeded at widening the base of outstanding farmers from places across the land, TOFARM 2014 aims to discover more unsung heroes in various aspects of farming – in rice fields, fruit and flower farms, livestock graze lands, seas, communities and urban areas from North Luzon to Southern Mindanao.

The nationwide awards program will cite best practices of public and private entities engaged in traditional or modern farming and includes fisherfolk, animal raisers, cooperatives, farm communities, organizations, scientists, the academe, women farmers, LGUs and public employees, as well as business entities in rural and urban areas.

This year, TOFARM is introducing BACKTOFARM (also called Balik-Saka), an agricultural rehabilitation project designed to improve the productivity of farm communities by providing basic necessities like food, clothing and shelter to qualified beneficiaries, providing them with technical assistance and inputs that will enable them to resume farming at the shortest possible time, introducing solutions and technologies that will increase their productivity and instituting measures that will sustain the benefits of the project.

Back TOFARM arose from efforts by both JCI and UHI to conduct relief operations in provinces devastated by Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas last November. JCI and UHI volunteers noted that basic needs of residents affected by the calamities were well provided for. But the need for farmers to get back on their feet through farming-specific aid was not being addressed.

UHI and JCI will promote Back TOFARM as they continue to pursue the long-term goal of the project : attract more young people to turn to farming as a livelihood because it is not only a noble undertaking, it is a lucrative profession as well.

“This is a really rewarding and lucrative field, and if our youth are really the hope of the fatherland as Dr. Jose Rizal said, they should go into farming to ensure the steady flow of generations who will ensure us of adequate and sustainable food supply,” Cunanan added.

At the JCI-UHI Memo Signing event, JCI Mindanao also presented its “Rebelde Noon, Magsasaka Ngayon” project to Dr. Milagros Ong-How, UHI Executive Vice President as a peace initiative that would dove-tail perfectly with the Back TOFARM project. JCI representatives noted that former rebels laid down their arms and came back to the fold when assured of opportunities to farm and settle back into a productive agricultural existence.

Besides helping revitalize agriculture in the region, “Back TOFARM” and “Rebelde Noon, Magsasaka Ngayon” are being seen as initiatives to promote peace.

JCI has partnered with Universal Harvester long term to make sure that farmers continue to be motivated towards excellence and that they receive the recgnition that they deserve.

Dr. Milagros Ong How said  “TOFARM 2014 will be more diligent in identifying farmers’ best practices, with more focus on small farmers who are doing their share to be the best of what they do with what they have.

TOFARM will give out 12 awards this year, seven in the individual category and five in the group category. These are : Farmer, Fisherfolk, Livestock, Agri-Entrepreneur, Young Farmer, Agricultural Innovator, Urban/City Farmer and Woman Farmer in the individual category; and Agriculture Cooperative, Family Farmer, Local Government Unit, Agriculture Initiatives, Indigenous People, Farmer and Carabao Partnership, and People’s Choice in the group category.

The nomination period for Outstanding Farmer candidates begins this April and will end on September 30, 2014. Validation and Judging of nominees will start sometime in October, and the 2014 awarding details shall be announced by the TOFARM committee this coming May, if not sooner.

Nominations may be submitted as hard copy or emailed. Nomination forms can bedownloaded from the website.