Children of Potato Farmers Receive Scholarships from National Companies

Five BSU students, whose parents are potato farmers, received scholarships from the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation (GBF) in partnership with the Universal Robina Corporation (URC). This is part of the companies’ commitment to support potato farmers through the Sustainable Potato Program CY 2019-2023. The said program is a URC initiative in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture (DA) which aims to improve the productivity and competitiveness of local potato farming. 

Under the program, 135 metric tons of potato seeds from Canada, sponsored by URC, were turned over to 300 farmers on March 8, 2023 at the Wangal Sports Complex, La Trinidad, Benguet. BSU students Razhel Joy Sali Jimenez and Marigold Domingo Bayeng, two of the five STEM-Agri Scholars, attended the event with BSU President Felipe Salaing Comila. The University President thanked the URC and GBF for the scholarship grants and referred to the scholars as future agriculturist models who help farmers achieve better life. 

Pres. Comila joined other guests of the turnover including URC Vice-President, Ms. Vicky Yap; Department of Agriculture (DA-CAR) Regional Executive Director Cameron P. Odsey; Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) Central Office Director, Gerald Glenn F. Panganiban; BPI National Crop Research and Production Support Center - Baguio City Director, Jesus R. Aspuria; Benguet Governor, Hon. Melchor D. Diclas; and United Potato Producers of Benguet and Mountain Province Inc. (UPPBMP) Chairman, Basilio Copas.

The guests shared inspiring messages with the farmers and scholars. President Comila asked the farmers to continue sustaining the next generation, referring to them as the hope of the country. “Without you farmers, ay wala kami dito, hindi tayo kakain pag wala kayo,” he observed. 

“Hopefully mapalago natin at mapaganda ang harvest,” said BPI Director Panganiban encouraging the farmers to communicate, seek help from the government, and consult with DA and experts on how to grow potato seeds successfully. Gov. Diclas also emphasized the importance of sharing among local farmers. “Paramihin po natin ang mga ito (potato seeds) para sa kabuhayan natin, at kung pwede, i-share pa natin sa mga kababayan natin para mas marami pang matulungan. Daytoy ti maysa nga panunuten tayo sharing,” the governor stated. 

The potato seeds turnover was made possible through the support of the DA, BPI and UPPBMP. According to VP Yap of URC, the initiative also responds to the farmer’s difficulty in accessing high-quality potato seeds. 

For the scholars, DA Executive Director Odsey recognized BSU as the center of development in agriculture. “Pagdating sa highland agriculture, talaga naman na BSU ang kinikilala na sentro, and we look forward to these five scholars going back to their community and being experts in agriculture,” Dir. Odsey remarked.  He expressed hope for more STEM-Agri scholars in the future. 

URC VP Yap also announced that it is the first year of partnership between URC and GBF in granting scholarships to children of potato farmers enrolled in agriculture-related courses in BSU. She referred to the scholars as ‘seeds’ that will grow to become the next generation of farmers.//EMBawayan