DOST PCAARRD’s three-year STC4iD project with the Bitaug Small Coconut Farmers Association (BISMACOFA) came to an end last December of 2021.  From 2019 until 2021, BISMACOFA engaged into integrated vegetable gardening with an end view that such project would empower its members to be sufficient in their lives.  With the use of science and technology, farming would now for them an informed, process-oriented, and qualified activity.

How to sustain it will be BISMACOFA’s big challenge this year and the years to come.  Mayor Gerold V. Pal-ing of Enrique Villanueva said:  “Like every organic course, your association will begin to undergo a weaning period.  You will begin to stand on your own without the frequent assistance of Siquijor State College as the implementing partner of DOST.  You have one great challenge facing after the turn-over of this project – you have to sustain it.”

Siquijor State College would now assume it under its Extension Department, and the sustainability shall only be under its advisory at its own expense.  Dr. Philna S. Palongpalong, the project leader of STC4iD, was grateful for the past three years.  She said:  “It has been a privilege to take the lead on this project, and I am more than happy that finally it has come to an end for another challenge to begin for BISMACOFA – that is to sustain the project. We have accomplished good and great things together.  Thank you, everyone.”

DOST SIQUIJOR PSTC Provincial Director Engr. Mario E. de la Peña said: “What is important is that you have already been trained to incorporate science and technology into your way of farming.  You have been blessed, indeed, and in fact other agencies like DOLE, DTI, PVO, OPA, TESDA are pooling their interventions for you.  DOST Siquijor has also been extending your association with its CEST project.  You have no reason why you cannot take off to a greater height.”

Dr. Renalyn B. Bantawig, Executive Secretary of SSC and speaking on behalf of Dir. Maximo C. Aljibe, OIC-President of SSC, quipped:  “More than anything else, I want so say that we are so proud of you.  One thing is true – a life which begins in a relationship with God is a channel of a bounty of blessings.  That explains why you are all blessed.”

Dr. Steven J. Sumaylo, VPAA of Siquijor State College remarked:  “I thank DOST PCAARRD first for granting this project to an association which is under the implementation of SSC.  Thank you, too, to the project team and to all you members of BISMACOFA.  What you have achieved and what you have become are a result of your patience, unity, and industry.  In the context of SSC’s accreditation to being SUC Level 3, your association being under SSC would be a decisive factor.”

The turn-over ceremony on January 14, 2022 was attended by Mayor Gerold V. Pal-ing, Bitaug Barangay Captain Aldwin S. Magsalay, Dr. Philna S. Palongpalong, STC4iD’s project team leader, together with her staff, a representative from En. Villanueva-Municipal Agriculture Office, one from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, and Dr. Steven J. Sumaylo and Dr. Renalyn B. Bantawig of Siquijor State College.

Mr. Lowel B. Salve of the Office of Provincial Agriculturist would have this to say:  “Go on, prove yourself that you are up to making a difference in your lives.”

Indeed, the story of BISMACOFA can be summed up with a phrase:  “from idling to tilling – a story of a journey to empowerment.”

(Jose Aldous R. Arbon II, DOST SIQUIJOR PSTC-IO)