the Philippines, 16 Oct 2003 -- Bangkok – Today, the FAO Regional Office in Bangkok has issued awards to three outstanding farmers from the Asia-Pacific Region. The farmers received the awards from HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn during the 2003 World Food Day celebration in Bangkok.
Virginia Muniño – outstanding achievement in integrated farming
A successful female farmer-entrepreneur, Virginia Muniño from the Philippines is the fourth of 12 children in a farming family. She embarked on a professional life, obtaining a university degree in medical technology and working in a hospital and research laboratory. At age 28, affected by the human rights situation in her native province of Cotabato, and pulled by a life-long dream of being a nun, Ms Muniño joined a socially active convent. Aspiring to help disadvantaged people, she turned to what she saw as her best skill – farming. She introduced organic methods to the convent’s farm, worked as a teacher and mentor, and at the same time furthered studies at the Southeast Asian Rural Social Leadership Institute.
Incited by the need to care for her ailing parents, she left the convent and returned to the family farm. She integrated a variety of fruit trees, a fish pond and a piggery, all tended by organic methods, on her 2 ha share of the land. As well, she took in four children to raise, and started working with impoverished villagers who benefited from the distribution of land under an agrarian reform programme. Within one decade, Ms Muniño, has seen her earnings increase by 40 percent, despite the challenge of an upland area affected by erosion and irrigation difficulties. But the most surprising impact has been her outreach to single-crop farmers – from around the province and outside the region – streaming in to see her ‘model’ farm, eager to learn from her knowledge. Her example as an innovative and successful farmer has encouraged poor villagers to seek industrious activities that benefit their families.
Now in her 50s and single, she is a leader in the Rural Improvement Club, the Women’s Association and a government agrarian reform project. She supports comprehensive community programmes, skills training in farming, income-generating cooperative projects, as well as non-formal education and the promotion of traditional Filipino values.
RAP 03/11 - B
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