|The YFFTPJ Batch 2014 with their “otosan”, or foster fathers, during the YFFTPJ 30th Anniversary Celebration and National Convention|
A counterpart program of the ASEAN Young Farm Leaders Training Program in Japan, the Young Filipino Farmers Training Program in Japan (YFFTPJ) featured its accomplishments and innovations for the past 30 years.
During the program’s 30th Anniversary Celebration and National Convention in Ciudad Christhia Resort in San Mateo, Rizal last March 4-6, around 80 program alumni convened to revitalize their commitments and responsibility as members of the Japan Agriculture Exchange Council Alumni Association of the Philippines (JAECAAP).
Themed “YFFTPJ @ 30: Its Contribution and Impact in Bringing Sustainable Agri-Development to Filipino Farmers,” the celebration also served as a venue to forge commitment from the members of the JAEECAP in the implementation of the YFFTPJ. New officers for the alumni association were also elected.
As Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) Deputy Executive Director Florabelle Uy-Yap spoke to the JAECAAP alumni during their meeting, she urged them to make use of their training not only for themselves but also for their families and the entire country. “Your training is not concluded with the science and skills of farming that you learned, more so, providing you perspective, the values of discipline and respect for the environment and quality of work that your host families instilled in you,” she emphasized.
PCAF former YFFTPJ Program Manager Soledad Bernardo also shared the history of the program, as it had been integral to National Agricultural and Fishery Council (NAFC), one of the precursor agencies of the PCAF, for 24 years.
Meanwhile, JAEC Chairperson Kyoshi Ishii thanked the Philippine government for the 30 years of partnership through the YFFTPJ. “We hope that the challenges they (Filipino young farmers) encountered during their training in Japan made them stronger and better,” he said in Japanese.
Also speaking in Japanese, former Agricultural Attache to Japan Joseph Sison encouraged the YFFTPJ graduates to organize a cooperative so that they can import agricultural machineries without paying taxes. “The Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of the Philippines provides tax-free importation of agricultural machineries. Let us take advantage of that law,” he said.
On the other hand, Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) Deputy Director Renato dela Cruz thanked the Japanese host farmers for equipping the young Filipino farmers with latest agricultural technology and management skills. He also wished that the Japanese host families will continue to extend their generosity to future young farmer trainees.
Selected YFFTPJ graduates also presented their farming innovations as well as the recognitions they received.
Alex Calucag and Jonathan Sony Domingo of Ilocos Norte, Flor Olivar of Camarines Norte, Alex Aborita of Leyte, Joel Ello of Zamboanga del Norte and Benjamin Maputi, Jr. of Bukidnon shared their respective success stories since graduating the program.
Expressing his appreciation on the undertaking, Narciso Repuyo, JAEC alumni, said, “I learned a lot from this gathering. I am thankful that the Department of Agriculture (DA) forged partnership with the Japanese government. The program has been helping a lot of out-of-school youth here in the Philippines.”
The YFFTPJ started in 1986 under ATI and was turned over to the NAFC in 1991. On September 25, 2014, the implementation of the program became a function of the ATI again.
Having managed the program for 24 years, PCAF staff who were part of the field validation and home stay evaluation participated in the said undertaking.
Batch 2014 of the program went back to the Philippines last February 28. They were given a post-evaluation in March to determine the relevance of the training and their responses on the different facets of the program.