Farmers from the Visavas are fortunate because they have a UP Los Banos professor by the name of Dr Romulo G. Davide who grew tip in Colawin, a barrio that used to be a very depressed barangay in Argao, Cebu. In 1994, Dr Davide received a prize of P500,000 for having been that year’s Outstanding Agricultural Scientist under the Gawad Saka project o f the Department of Agriculture.
With the amount, he decided to launch a project that is aimed at turning ordinary farmers into scientists so they can improve their farming techniques. He launched the. Farmer-Scientists Training Program (FSTP) with helping the poor corn farmers from his province uppermost in his mind.
He had observed that in his own hometown, the farmers were very poor because they were using very crude farming methods. They were mostly planting the old Tinigib variety of white corn which yielded just about 500 kilos per hectare. Besides the low yielding variety that they planted, the poor soil that barely had topsoil contributed to the low yield. Thus, they could not even produce enough white corn for their own consumption.
Because of the low income of farm families, Dr. Davide said, there was rampant insurgency and a serious drug problem. Ownership of paltik, the illegally manufactured gun for which Cebu is famous, was the status symbol among the menfolk.
Today, however, Argao has become s progressive town, thanks to a large measure to the FSTP started by Dr. Davide some 15 years ago. Cellphones have replaced the paltik as the prized possession of the menfolk. Motorcycles have also become a common sight as a means of transportation even in the most remote barangays of the town. Up to now, training of more farmers to become scientists continues in Argao, and in fact, it has covered the entire province of Cebu and beyond. The FSTP has also been adopted in Bohol, Siquijor, Negros Oriental, Leyte, Mindoro and Compostela Valley in Mindanao.