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ACEF-GIAHEP summit in Visayas opens agribiz opportunities to grantees

Posted by: RAFIS DA6 | Posted at: October 20, 2023

In a groundbreaking initiative aimed at empowering the youths to maximize opportunities in the agri-fishery sector, the first Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund Grants-in-Aid for Higher Education Program (ACEF-GIAHEP) Grantees Summit was held on October 18-20, 2023 in Iloilo City.

With the theme “Leading the Engagement in Agriculture to Fortify the Future of the Youth,” the event aimed to reorient beneficiaries and evaluate the scholarship program’s impact. The grantees were provided with information regarding the services offered by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and partner agencies, which they can tap into as agricultural development workers and aspiring agri-entrepreneurs.

“This is a very good initiative to gather our scholars to be oriented and enriched with a knowledge of what the resource speakers would impart. It will create an awareness of the wide range of opportunities in the agriculture and fishery sectors, and encourage ACEF grantees to venture into agribusiness. We also hope to inform them of various financial windows as they take part in modernizing the sector,” said DA Western Visayas’ OIC-Regional Technical Director for Research and Regulations, Lorie D. Deasis.

ACEF-GIAHEP Director Fernando Flores affirmed their commitment to enhancing the scholarship program’s implementation, aligning with the Department of Agriculture’s increased efforts to attract young individuals to the agricultural sector, in response to the challenges of a dwindling number and an aging population of farmers.

“Through constant coordination with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), we aim to resolve all backlogs or pending stipends of the grantees by the first quarter of next year. We will facilitate the on-time release of stipends to all scholars,” Director Flores noted, adding that the Program Management Office would make their website more interactive to address the concerns of ACEF-GIAHEP scholars promptly.

Meanwhile, CHED’s Supervising Education Program Specialist Cynthia Q. Hernandez thanked the DA for gathering the grantees in a summit for the first time since the program’s inception. As of now, there are already 6,280 ACEF-GIAHEP grantees nationwide.

Representatives from the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research, Bureau of Animal Industry, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Bureau of Plant Industry, High-Value Crops Development Program, and Philippine Center for Post-harvest Development and Mechanization discussed the research technologies they have developed, which are available for commercialization.

On the other hand, the Agricultural Training Institute also presented their programs and services, as well as scholarship opportunities, including the Educational Assistance for the Youth in Agriculture Scholarship Grant, Educational Grants for Extension Workers, and Youth Scholarship Grant on Organic Farming.

ACEF-GIAHEP grantees and youths with an inclination for agribusiness can avail of the Kapital Access for Young Agripreneurs (KAYA) and Agri Negosyo (ANYO) loan programs of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council and the Young Entrepreneurs from School to Agriculture Program (YESAP) and ACEF Lending Program of the Land Bank of the Philippines.

Additionally, the DA’s Young Farmers Challenge (YFC) Program, launched in 2021, offers competitive start-up capital to Filipinos aged 18-30 who venture into agri-fishery enterprises.

Apart from accessing these programs, ACEF-GIAHEP beneficiaries engaged in agricultural production and agribusiness are encouraged to take advantage of the services offered by the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation.

Hailing from the island barangay of Concepcion, Iloilo, Atty. Riego Garcia, the son of a fisherman and a fish vendor, shared his journey with the ACEF-GIAHEP program, which enabled him to complete his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering at Central Philippine University successfully despite facing financial hardship.

“We are very thankful for the opportunity you have given us. It’s time for us to give back to the community and the Department of Agriculture. You helped us finish our college degrees and become part of the professional workforce,” added Garcia.

 

Luzon and Mindanao clusters will have a similar ACEF-GIAHEP summit this November.### Texts and Photos by Sheila Mae H. Toreno/DA-RAFIS 6

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