By Vishia Mae Dominic J Tolcidas
A group of Japanese host-farmers recently visited Magsasaka-Siyentista Elmor Juanitas in Barangay Minoyan, Murcia to see the results of his agricultural training in Japan ten years ago.
This was disclosed by Ma. Elena Gumban, the Provincial Farm Youth Development Program Coordinator of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA).
Thirty-four year-old Juanitas is a graduate of the Young Filipino Farmers Training Program in 2000 sponsored by the National Agriculture and Fisheries Council of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
The Japanese visitors are called host-farmers because they served as hosts to the Filipino trainees for a year when the latter were in Japan.
According to Gumban, they were interested to see for themselves how the Japan training has influenced the Filipino graduates' farming practices, their activities, their self-discipline, and their lives. They wanted to see the graduates’ contribution to their communities and the environment.
In 1999, Juanitas, then 24 years old, was chosen as the Most Outstanding Young Farmer of Negros Occidental and Western Visayas in the yearly search organized by the DA. Such award qualified him for a training in Japan.
Juanitas became active in the programs and projects implemented by OPA, DA and the Municipal Government of Murcia such as the Farmers Field School for Rice and 4H Club where he was president.
In 2006, upon the recommendation of the Farmers' Information and Technology (FITS) Center of OPA Negros Occidental, he was evaluated and appointed as a Magsasaka-Siyentista by the Western Visayas Agriculture Resources Research and Development Consortium (WESVARRDEC).
"Bongbong," as he is fondly called by family and friends, is raising tilapia and growing rootcrops and even flower plants in his 4,500 square-meter lot in Sitio Katugasan. He raises swine, goats and chickens in his backyard. He also maintains a nursery of forest and fruit trees. These farm ventures are the source of income for him and his family.
The perseverance and hardwork of Juanitas even while he was young in farming while attending school helped him finish Agriculture major in Agri-Business at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos in Bacolod City. Being an active member of the Saint John Bosco Parish Youth Ministry earned him a college scholarship. He has other accomplishments to his credit: valedictorian of Lopez Jaena High School and member of the UNO-R Supreme Student Government.
Juanitas now finds joy in helping his community as barangay kagawad of Minoyan. He also served as barangay chairman a few years ago.
Other young Filipino farmers that the Japanese host- farmers visited were Alvaro Arconada of Cabatuan; Carlos Dominguez of Lucena; Jetro Brillantes of Calinog; and Ricky Sulpico of Passi City, all in the Province of Iloilo. They also visited Enrique Alcaraz in the Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija.