This Year's RIC-HEEAP National Convention Focuses on Women Empowerment for Sustainable Agriculture

GENERAL SANTOS CITY--- Empowering women is this year's theme of the convention of the rural women's clubs held recently in this City.
Through the coordination of the Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Training Institute, in partnership with the DA-Regional Field Units and the Local Government Units, the regional officers and selected members of the Rural Improvement Club- Home Economics Extension Association of the Philippines (RIC-HEEAP) gathered together in this year's national convention to acquire some updates on the latest programs of the DA and showcase their products to the local market.

With its theme "Empowerment of Women: Key to Sustainable Agriculture", the event became a venue to discuss the different opportunities for women on sustainable agriculture; surface learnings from the success stories of the outstanding women and organizations; familiarize themselves on the Magna Carate for Women; and encourage some skills competition through different contests as well as showcase the various products of the organization.
Around 277 delegates came from all over the country who are the regional, provincial, city and municipal officers, coordinators and members of the RIC and HEEAP, ATI's focal persons for rural-based organizations, agricultural extension workers, and the local government executives from the different regions. Likewise, distinguished guests such as DA's Undersecretary for Field Operations Joel S. Rudinas, National RIC President Dr. Irene B. Maramag, National HEEAP President Rosemarie O. Martin, DA-Regional Field Unit XII Regional Executive Director Amalia J. Datukan, General Santos City Assistant City Administrator Francis Glen Gonzales, ATI Director Asterio P. Saliot and ATI Deputy Director for Agriculture and Fishery Extension (AFE) Alberto B. Maningding graced the event. 
During the opening program, representing Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, Rudinas delivered the Secretary's message that said: " Ang DA ay patuloy na mamumuhunan sa mga kababaihan sa kanayuan, sa tulong ng mga kababaihan tulad ng RIC na nagbibigay inspirasyon na abutin ang kanilang mga pangarap. Mahalaga rin ang papel ng mga kababaihan sa ating hangarin na mapaunlad ang sektor ng agrikultura. Titiyakin rin na mapapakinabangan ng mga kababaihan ang mga programa ng DA sa ilalim ng GAD framework, pangako ni Ginoong Alcala."
Moreover, inspiring words from General Santos City Mayor Darlene Magnolia R. Antonio-Custodio as read by Gonzales uplifted the morale of the participants. She said the theme of the convention is one step to significant enroutes not only in performing the duties as members of the organization for sustainable agriculture but also in changing the lives and the lives of the people they touch.
From the lectures and discussions delivered by great speakers from the DA-Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service, DA Gender and Development Office, Bureau of Food and Drug, DA-RFU XII Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division, the participants were able to hear some updates on the recent programs of the DA that would be beneficial to them. Likewise, some success stories from the last year's Outstanding Gawad Saka RIC Organization from Isabela, Sinamar RIC President Teresita A. Remegio as well as the 2010 Outstanding Woman Achiever from Region IV-B Palawan, Amelia Guisones were presented. 
Furthermore, a handicraft on water lily and plastic bottle flower-making were demostrated by Gloria Huevos and Nenita S. de la Cruz, RIC members from Banga and Surallah, South Cotabato. Also, representatives from each region had an opportunity to show off their singing prowess during a contest and exhibits on handicraft and processed food among others were displayed in booths. A city tour on Fish Port, Truly Natural Food Processing, and Kim Kits Processing were well received by the participants. 
The three-day convention was managed through the efforts of the ATI - Extension Programs and Partnerships Division headed by its Engineer Renato B. Dela Cruz, in coordination with the host region composed of DA-RFU XII, ATI Regional Training Center XII under the leadership of Center Director Abdul I. Daya-an and they were assisted by the federation of RIC in the Philippines and HEEAP members.
The event was held last August 22 to 25, 2011 at the Family Country Hotel and Convention Center in this city. (Beatriz A. Yanga with reports from Benedicta A. Dimaranan and Rosalinda M. Banayag)