By: Estrella Z. Gallardo
Research for the People Gawad Saka Outstanding Scientists is published by the Bureau of Agricultural Research, Department of Agriculture and Foundation for Agriculture – Related Missions, Inc., devoting their works to uplift the lines of farmers and fisher folk.
The coffee table book was copyright @ 2018 by the Bureau of Agriculture Research, Department of Agriculture and Foundation for Agriculture-Related Missions, Inc.
Dr. Nicomedes P. Eleazar CESO W, Director, Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) was tasked by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to be the Secretariat for two categories in the Gawad Saka Awards Outstanding Agricultural Scientist (OAS), and Outstanding Agricultural Researchers (OAR).
The OAS and OAR awards were given to individuals who have done exceptional research work in any field directly related to agriculture and fisheries and who continue to be actively involved in research activities.
From 1987 to 2017, Gawad Saka has given out 28 outstanding scientists and 14 outstanding researchers’ awards.
Featured in the book are five of the outstanding scientists who unquestionably deserve being awarded for their selfless and patriotic efforts in helping farmers and fishers through proven R&D solutions.
The five outstanding scientists are:
- Louella D. Lorenzana currently officer-in-charge of DA(MIMAROPA), whose research into the Mango pulp weevil problem was pivotal in saving Palawan’s imperiled mango industry (2007 Gawad Saka Outstanding Scientist)
With Dr. Lorenzana devoting more than 15 years to a finding and implementing solutions to the mango pulp weevil problem in Palawan, she has made a huge contribution to the country’s mango industry;
- Carlos S. Dela Cruz Chief of the Regulatory Division and organic Agriculture focal person of the DA-Regional Field Office 8 (Eastern Visayas), who has led efforts to save the region’s jackfruit industry (2011 Gawad Saka Outstanding Scientist),
Dr. Dela Cruz was instrumental in collecting information on the germplasm and seed system of jackfruit. As a result, three foundation groups in the region and 29 science groups in jackfruit-growing areas were established to assure the generation of quality planting materials and their dispersal;
- Mudjekeewis D. Santos, officer-in-charge of the Marine Fisheries Research Division of the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), who remains to the day as the country’s leading marine scientist (2012 Gawad Saka Outstanding Scientist),
Dr. Santos said knowing that he has made an impact on the lives of smallholders cannot be matched by money, like leading the research on the need for closed fishing season in parts of the Philippines;
- Cayetano C. Pomares, vice president for research and Extension of the University of Southern Mindanao, a man on a mission to develop the country’s small ruminants industry starting from the countryside (2013 Gawad Saka Outstanding Scientist),
Foremost in Dr. Pomares mind was to help Filipino smallholders improve their goat and sheep stocks, and establish a viable great industry in the Philippines.
- Jomar I. Yago, researcher and professor of the Nueva Vizcaya State University, who took the cudgels to rehabilitate the citrus industry of the Ilocos region (2014 Gawad Saka Outstanding Scientist).
Dr. Yago and his team started to conduct researches on the pests and diseases plaguing the citrus industry of Nueva Vizcaya. The culprits were later identified as citrus greening and twig blight diseases, of which the latter was the more vicious.
This five scientists represent the various subsectors of agriculture – crops, livestock, and fisheries – that captures a wider perspective and describe the diversity in fields of experts. It happens that they also represent the major island group of the Philippines since three of them are from Luzon, one from Visayas and one from Mindanao.
During the interviews conducted for the production of their book, the five scientists could not help but show their high level of enthusiasm and sense of fulfillment for serving the country and more importantly, the small Filipino farmer and fisherfolk.
The messages that they gave are very insightful and clear: the country needs more scientists to help empower smallholders in the agriculture sector with scientific knowledge; make the country a hub for breakthrough scientific research and development; assist government in promoting more equitable sharing of the fruits of production; and for all Filipino scientists and researchers to play a major role in accelerating the country’s economic growth.
The coffee table book is a first volume that hope will lead to a series of books recognizing the Gawad Saka awardees in farming and fisheries research.
The objectives of the Gawad Saka Awards for outstanding farmers, fisherfolk, agriculture-based organizations and cooperatives, agribusiness enterprises, youth, women, and other stakeholders in the country’s agricultural sector are “ To honor and pay tribute to the outstanding performers in agriculture and fisheries” and to serve as inspiration and model for others,”.