THE GREEN WARRIOR IN ME – 2nd Placer, ROLEx Essay Writing Contest, February 25,2018, UNO-Recoletos, ​Bacolod City

Rise up and fight!

In a time wherein we grew up in the likes of social media and technology, it is no surprise that majority of us young people tend to shy away from agriculture, disenchanted by the wide rice fields and sugarcane views.

We are instilled to believe that farming Is an archaic lifestyle and provides limited opportunities for the youth. But no, plenty of evidence shows that agriculture businesses could give as much of a sustainable future and a harvest of growth and success as other modern-day stable jobs do, especially in countries like our own.

The Philippines is an agricultural nation, with agriculture as the backbone of our economy. Thousands of islands possessing a total of 30 million hectares of plenteous green paradises in which 47% are agricultural lands, providing for the nutrition and livelihood our citizens are in need for.

Ironically, the agricultural sector is the one that is in most need of employees. With the digital age rising, the standards of young people’s ambitions have coped up with it too, leaving the most important industry barren of workers.

Yet, it is never too late with us young people, to step up and lift our agriculture learning and importance in ways which we are famously known for doing and using: technology.

Change is coming,  for the better and it starts with us.

How so?

One, the agricultural sector needs our young brain power to revamp traditional techniques,  adapting to the modern era. With us in the picture, farmwork will be much lighter and easier for our elderly farmers. It’s time we give back the hard work they have done for us.

Two, with us having the vibrant knowledge of using technology, farming could be hyped up with opportunities for digital innovations. Processing products such as sugarcane and coconuts would be less of a hassle. In 2014, a combined 14.6 million metric tons and 92,000 metric tons of bananas were produced, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics through the Philippine Statistical Authority. That is when the sue of digital innovations have started to emerge. What more if we provided a much bigger hand of help now that technology has improved so much for the last three years?

Three, the agricultural sector is four times more effective in reducing poverty than the other sectors, as aforementioned, agriculture is the backbone of our economy, but without us youth providing the cares for its aches for, then we might as well crumble with the remains of our ecological status.

That is why, we need to step up our standards with farming, be more aware of what’s happening in our environment and rather than just being addicted to the internet, we must make ourselves addicted to learning about agriculture on the internet.

We must inject in our minds how crucial it is to have a sustainable agricultural industry. Unity, passion and cooperation is all that we need.

Let us polish our armor of learning, our sword of determination and our shield of awareness. Call out our fellow young soldiers and bring out the best green warriors within us, for the betterment of agriculture and the country as a whole is in our hands.

Let us rise up and fight.

Demonstration Farm

The UNO-Recoletos demonstration farm is used primarily to demonstrate various good agricultural practices derived from research studies conducted by student researchers. with some consideration on economic gains or profit of returns to the cost of production. This demonstration farm aims to illustrate and provide hands-on training with new organic ways of farming, modern farming techniques, and new crops, and to learn useful emerging knowledge generated from these activities. This demo farm will permit students to perform the following actions:

1. To conduct scientific experiments to test the performance of new fertilizers and agricultural techniques, and examine the production performance of livestock and poultry animals.
2. To conduct efficacy trials of pesticides and other agrochemicals on test crops;
3. To conduct efficacy trials on different animal nutrients and supplements on livestock and poultry animals;
4. To ensure that experimental findings apply directly to Negros soil conditions and benefit Negros farmers through profitability and productivity financial analysis;

5. To serve as a demonstration site where local farmers can observe the performance of different test crops, poultry and swine treatments and techniques under controlled conditions.

Untainted Space Within

SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE OF a progressive city, buses and motorcycles create sounds that contribute to the noise pollution; the air is impure with dirty smoke from factories, vehicles, and other human doings.; and the people are interfering for their daily sustenance; there is a 9,000 square meters land area filled with ideas that could make you feel like you are in a place far from the city life.

“It is always a good morning in the farm because part of that would be our belief that agriculture should be the way with which the Philippines should be able to improve. Until you’re able to help the 65 percent of your population improve their standard of living, improve their income level, improve their quality of life, then the Philippines should always be Third World,” shares Agripreneur Ramon Peñalosa, Jr. The Peñalosa Farm is situated in Victorias City, Negros Occidental. The farm is a micro model of an integrated organic farm. “It is micro because it is just 9,000 m2,” says Sir Ramon. Sir Ramon explains that “Integrated Farming is the synergy and complementary between crops, live stocks, and farming system so that you are able to create a zero-waste self-contained ecosystem characterized by vertical and horizontal projects.”

At Peñalosa Farm, one plus one is equal to 50. Meaning, you can expand your one core business through the horizontal and vertically integrated projects to all the demands and needs – farm to market, farm to kitchen, and farm to plate. For a case, if swine is your core business with the utilization of the integrated farming concept, you can proceed into the selling of piglets, boars, hogs, etc. The swine are fed, and of course, they produce waste which could be used as manure.
Swine manure or pig manure can be applied as fertilizers in gardens. One way of using it is to compost it with other biodegradable wastes found on the farm. Thus, this could help
your growing plants and save from inorganic fertilizers. Since the manure is available, it is possible for you to grow plants – medicinal, herbs and spices, horticulture, vegetables,
among others.
Aside from swine, you can also go into poultry and other types of farm animals. From animals to wastes to plants, Peñalosa Farm is indeed a proof that wastes can be converted into money. Sir Ramon also shares their advocacies in the farm.

The Philippines is very rich in natural resources. “I believe that it is now time for Filipinos to be able to maximize the presence of the different technologies all over the world and use it for the Philippines,” Sir Ramon says. In this modern and technological world, farming technologies are not that far from your reach as long as there is financial assistance.
“Because we now have access to that, then wala na Pilipinong dapat magutom sa sariling bayan,” he points out.

There are times that you have to go out of your boxes and explore other things for you not to be stagnant on the things you are comfortable with. “You have to dream, and you have to dream big,” Sir Ramon encourages. He said that a farmer should not be dependent on other people. To improve yourselves, you should be able to actually learn.
“You want yourself to improve? Then, improve yourself.”

Penalosa Farm Photos (218)

“We can actually make money even in our own very small setting. We can make a per square meter if we want to. You should be able to maximize anything that you have,” says Sir Ramon.
Not all of us should go and work overseas, nor all of us should be in urban areas. “Your vision should be 3D. When you look at the space, there is the opportunity of time, opportunity of space – meron mababa, meron sa ilalim ng lupa, meron sa ibabaw, meron sa itaas, and meron sa canopy, so that you are able to fully maximize it and as long as you have the competitive edge. And as long as you have something unique and special, people will then go to you,” he explains.
“Kasi, kapag ikaw ang naglalako sa Pilipinas, ang problema mo, ikaw ang binabarat,” Sir Ramon says. You should have a high competitive edge in the market that could possibly be “take it” or “leave it”.

According to Sir Ramon, the Philippines is the “Disaster Center of the World”. “You can go for disaster tourism. Meaning, you want a volcanic eruption? We have a volcanic eruption. You want a typhoon? We have super typhoons. You want mga baha? Just go to Manila during a habagat season. We have corruption in massiv scales,” he says. “Kung ang Pilipino hindi marunong magdasal, matagal na tayong lumubog.”
He expresses that there is a big difference between a farmer who has someone to lean on and a farmer who doesn’t know how to pray. He believes that the effect of prayer is something that cannot be quantified. “Before it happens in the material world, it begins in the spiritual world. Pray,” he says.
The Peñalosa Farm is definitely a high competitive micro model integrated farm. Sir Ramon states that the first thing a good farmer does is changing himself to be the most productive, the most efficient, and should a passion for excellence. “Kung may ginagawa ka, be the best of what you can be.” He believes that the hope of the Philippines lies on the youth today, but is more dependent on farmers.
“Hanggang hindi tinutulungan ang magsasaka na tumaas ang antas ng kanilang buhay, ang Pilipinas ay palaging third world.”

Article taken with consent from the Tolentine Star Magazine "Transition", Volume LXX no. 8.

ROLEx set to improve UNO-R Agri Program

With the aim of developing and innovating agriculture and agribusiness, a collaborative presentation for the retooling of University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos Agriculture program was held with experts from the University of the Philippines – Los Banos.

Maria Corazon Acaba, MBAH, DVM, Program Director of Recoletos Online Learning Extension (ROLEx) headed the discussion with Dr. Reuel Marte and Dr. Glenn Baticados of UPLB Technology Transfer Hub and representatives from agriculture industries, the university, the government and some families.

Picture2The group talked about the needs, requirements, expectations and insights on the local agriculture and improvement of agribusiness industries and academic programs.

A half-day seminar which tackled agribusiness and agriculture in general and the revisions of the agriculture programs offered in UNO-R were collated from the participants.

Some of the recommendations pitched were offering agribusiness courses to different markets, improving agriculture courses with the specializations and skills the local industry needs, partnerships with local government units, national offices, and also private institutions for training and application and integrating agriculture courses for senior high school curriculum.

The retooling is in line with the objective of Project ROLEx which is to incorporate the digital age in the learning programs for agriculture in UNO-R.

The Emergence of ROLEx

The call for Institutional Development and Innovation Grant (IDIG) proposals was issued by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED)  as per CMO 33 series 2016 on June 6, 2016. It was an opportunity not missed by the Agriculture Department of the College of Arts and Sciences. A proposal was submitted not only to expand the role of the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos but more fully achieve its mandate as an institution of higher learning in the province of Negros Occidental. The objectives of the said project, now known as the Recoletos On-Line Extension (ROLEx), are as follows:

  1. Enhance the capabilities of faculty, the staff of UNO-R agriculture teachers and target HEIs by providing training for online instructional materials, workshops, hands-on and wet laboratory activities and value formation on the development of quality, excellent and inclusive and sustainable e-learning materials and coursewares.
  2. Upgrade their knowledge, skills, and technology through the establishment of IT infrastructure and field trial farms or virtual farms to make farming education and training faster to adopt and apply new knowledge for the improvement of farm productivity, efficiency, effectiveness.
  3. Improve learning environment and strategies to access eLearning resources among actors in HEI and industry in the local, regional, national and international levels by forging linkages and partnerships for these will promote sustainability of quality agricultural education, reduce poverty, food security, inclusive growth, and climate change preparedness.
  4. Increase growth in agricultural program enrolment by retooling the agriculture academic program that is relevant to the present need of 21stcentury higher education and by providing web presence with intensive marketing and branding management activities prior the opening of the Academic year 2017-2018.

Following the approval of the proposal by CHED, several consultations were done to strategize the implementation and management of the project. The said discussions produced the ROLEX Project Implementation Plan and the ROLEX Project Management Plan. The plans are to be implemented by the ROLEX Project Implementation Team and the ROLEX Project Management Team.

ROLEX Project Implementation Deliverables

ROLEX Project Implementation Plan covers 12 months where 12 deliverables were identified, foremost the essence of which is the following:

  1. Retooling of the BS Agriculture Curriculum to produce a blended curriculum that would meet the needs of the region for expertise in food production;
  2. 12 ICT (e-learning coursewares);
  3. A distance education portal;
  4. Various research activities; and
  5. Building up of an extension highway and a network of partners and stakeholders that will define the role of UNO-R in promoting a more accessible and relevant quality education and a higher quality of life for all.

To achieve what it promises to deliver, this ROLEX Project Implementation Plan is at this moment presented. The plan is to be carried out by two teams: ROLEX Project Administrative Team who shall review and approve the work plan and output of the ROLEX Project Development and Management Team who shall work on the deliverables and ensure that they are achieved and developed on time according to the qualities and standards of UNO-R and CHED.

The ROLEX Project Administrative Team is composed of:

  1. University President
  2. Vice President External
  3. Vice President Academic Affairs
  4. Vice President Finance
  5. ROLEX Program Director

ROLEX Project Development and Management Team is composed of:

Rolex Program Director and Head of Courseware Development – the overall in-charge of the project, including the retooled Agriculture curriculum and the e-learning courseware development;

  1. Head for Portal/Webpage Development and Management – the overall in-charge of the development of the e-learning portal and the management of the web page for the distance learning component of the blended curriculum;
  2. Head for Demonstration Farm Development and Management – the overall in-charge of the development and management of the organic farm that is to show as the example for e-learning and entrepreneurship component of the blended curriculum;
  3. Head for Branding and Marketing – the overall in-charge for the communications package needed to market the program within the region, within the nation, and globally; and
  4. Head for Linkages and Partnership Development – the overall in-charge for building the network of partners and stakeholders who shall contribute to and benefit from the project.




Noted professors from UPLB conduct Animal Nutrition and Agri Talks at UNO-R

Dr. Rommel Sulabo talking on the Basics of Animal Nutrition, Nutrients and Nutritional Concepts.

The University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos School of Agriculture and Recoletos On-Line Learning Extension (ROLEx) Program held a two-day seminar on Knowledge Sharing on Animal Nutrition, Farm Marketing and Enterprise Development and Agriculture E-Commerce June 11 and 12, 2018 at the Masscomm Studio, 3rd floor of the UNO-R main building.

SULABO3Resource speakers were Dr. Rommel Sulabo, professor and head of the Animal Nutrition Division of the University of the Philippines Los Baños and Prof. Glenn Baticados, a well-sought speaker on entrepreneurship and seasoned consultant on enterprise development and value chain management, based in Laguna.

Dr. Sulabo talked on the Basics of Animal Nutrition, Nutrients and Nutritional Concepts. He also gave an overview of The Philippine Animal Industry, its future and the opportunities and challenges that may come along the way.

While Prof. Baticados discussed Farm Marketing and Enterprise Development, as well as Agri Entrepreneurship.


AgRecoletos initiates “Let’s Bake mga Kumare”

Chef Ronnie Guance teaching the “Maders and Kumares” the procedures of baking fruit cake.

To extend the knowledge of the “Maders and Kumares” on business start-ups and entrepreneurial mindset, AgRecoletos (School of Agriculture) organized the “Let’s Bake mga Kumare” program.

“Lets Bake mga Kumare” is an extension project of Agri-entrepreneurship class of Agrecoletos of the University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos.

Chef Ronnie Guance shared his expertise in baking Christmas goodies like fruit cakes, special mammon, banana cakes, meringue, and Brazos de Mercedes.

The participants are the “maders and kumares” of RESOURCE Center in Brgy. Handumanan, Bacolod City.

This initiative is Agri-extension program in collaboration with ROLEx (Recoletos Online Learning Extension), UCDO, and College of Arts and Sciences.