The 1st Philip Morris Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Award

Fermin Diaz of the trade magazine Lamb garnering the Agriculture Story of the Year award.
Diaz’s story “Meet the New Kids in Town”—which also won the Best Agriculture Feature Story (National)—tells how Cagayan Valley embarked on a genetic improvement project on sheep and goats, producing better stocks and large export potential that offer higher income opportunities for raisers.

With insights from officers of the Department of Agriculture as well as case studies given by farmers and raisers, the story brings to light a new source of livelihood that can help the economy, a new source of livelihood particularly relevant to the many small and medium industries in the Philippines. Moreover, the story raises public awareness and stimulates interest in new, innovative practices in both genetics and agriculture.

Teddy P. Molina of Saniata magazine won the Tobacco Story of the Year. Molina’s “Tobacco Has Other Uses” brings to light two breakthroughs on the use of tobacco. The first is as an organic pesticide and, second, as a source of pulp for paper manufacture.

The reporter cited statistics, experiment results, and several studies to underscore the great impact of tobacco not just as a crop, but as an end product with many beneficial alternative uses. The insightful piece is laudable for its role in creating a balance between the positive and negative effects of tobacco, as well as in promoting environment conservation through tobacco.

Manila Bulletin’s Freddie G. Lazaro was awarded the Best Agriculture News Story (National) for his piece “Pilot Areas for Sorghum Production in Ilocos Region Picked.” It focused on the planting of sweet sorghum in four towns and two government schools in the Ilocos Region. Sorghum, which is also the fifth most important cereal crop grown in the world, can actually be processed to form ethanol or biofuel. The story also detailed that a farmer could earn a net income of P90,000 a year per hectare in the planting sweet sorghum.

DWIZ’s Womantalk host Mary Rose Sarne, whose “Sea Urchin Cures Lymphocytic Leukemia” segment was awarded with Best Agriculture Radio Segment; centered on three college students from Mindanao State University who discovered the amazing effect of the Sea Urchin's gonad on lymphocytic leukemia. Through the students’ invention (an award-winning project in last year's Department of Science and Technology’s Inventors' Week Contest), one is offered hope for the seemingly incurable cancer of the blood. It is also a piece that gives leukemia patients a new reason to be optimistic in the face of their affliction.

ABS-CBN Studio 23’s BKTV journalist Regina Fernandez, whose informative episode on “Forestry” bagged the Best Agriculture TV Segment. Her creative and informative episode explained the major reasons why we need forests. It was presented in a light-hearted and entertaining way, or in a style that caught the attention and appreciation of many young viewers.

Anara-Ar magazine’s Madeleen Tacadena was selected as Best Agriculture News Story (Regional) with her story “Tobacco Farmers Losing Interest?”

Her articled focused on why some tobacco farmers in the Ilocos region are losing interest in the crop. The reporter’s story quoted records from the National Tobacco Administration’s (NTA) Cabugao Office, which showed that the number of tobacco farmers in this town went down from 1,024 in 2006 to 975 this year.

It is indeed a pressing issue, especially in a region that is involved in all sorts of agricultural production. The comparative study around which the story revolves raises awareness on a critical issue – and prompts readers to participate in an open forum about farming trends.

Joel Contrivida of Bandillo ng Palawan, who won Best Agriculture Feature Story (Regional) for his work entitled “May Pera Nga Ba Sa Kasoy?”

His journey began while listening in an investment forum in Puerto Princesa. There, he discovered that there were a lot of problems facing the local kasuy or cashew nut industry.  In his well-researched article, the reporter discussed the socio-economic aspects of this kidney or boxing-glove shaped drupe. As a whole, the story is highly significant in such a way that it discusses the economic viability of cashew– while also discerning the reasons why people pay premium for crops with various benefits to health, medicine and the economy.

Erasmo “Sonny” Espiritu, whose “Palawan Greens” photo in Manila Standard Today won Best Agriculture Photo Award. The image presented a simple yet artistic beauty of water conservation in Palawan.  It is a mix of colors that only nature can sketch. Yet, the photo journalist captured the drama at the right time and at the right place.