Bukidnon family wins ‘Gawad Saka’ outstanding farm family

MALAYBALAY CITY – A family from Bukidnon who ventured on multi-crop farming in their five-hectare property has won the Gawad Saka Most Outstanding Farm Family of the Philippines in 2010, an award presented by the Department of Agriculture National Agriculture and Fisheries Council.

The Rosalitas of Lurogan, Valencia City who advocates against farmers leasing their lands to corporation running plantations is among five from Mindanao of the 13 individuals and nine groups who won the award in 2010.

Maygrale Rosalita, spokesperson of the family, said they started a multi-crop farm because it is sustainable amidst the fluctuating prices of agriculture products.

He said they survived on farming and they thought that diversifying their products would protect them from business failure.

He said the family went through several occasions of crop failure, especially for corn in the past.

The Rosalitas have learned farming several crops at the same time and has shared it to friends and neighbors.

He said they, too, have become advocates of multi-crop farming in forums and they have also opened their farm to private and public groups who want to know their farming technologies.

Rosalita is among the 18 Filipino scholars who joined the Young Filipino Farmers Training Program in Japan in 2005.

But he said it was his parents who had started their farming tradition since they arrived in Valencia City in the 1960s.

The award was presented to the winners by President Benigno S. Aquino III and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala during awarding rites on May 23, 2011, at the Rizal Hall, Malacañan Palace.

The family farms a hectare each of cassava, sugarcane, and corn. The remaining two hectares is used for the family orchard where they grow 15 fruit varieties including pomelo, papaya, durian, guyabano, and jackfruit.

The family also runs a cut flower cottage industry and grows vegetable such as eggplant, pechay, and mushrooms. They are a major supplier of the vegetarian canteen ran by the Mountain View College.

Three of the Rosalitas’ five children have graduated from MVC from sales of vegetables they supplied the school.

The Rosalitas also raise goats and native chicken, according the Provincial Agriculture Office, which facilitated the family’s nomination documents to the award.

Maygrale Rosalita, 30, one of two sons of Abias Rosalita, 71, the family patriarch, said they run their farm with family members serving most of its labor needs.

He said they only hire during harvest time but they operate basically depending on their family members farming time.

Both Abias and his wife Mercedes, 66, still work in the farm.

Estelita Madjos, deputy provincial agriculture officer, said the family’s experience is a good example in Bukidnon where most farmers prefer to lease their land.

She said some farmers who leased their prime agricultural lands stay farming but in agriforest areas, pushed to the uplands.

The Rosalitos example,  she added, could help convince Bukidnon farmers that it is still viable to run their farms amidst the increasing conversion of farms to plantations. (Walter I. Balane)

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