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Farming is in

WAVE after wave, or should that be season after season, it looks like agriculture is finally capturing the imagination of urbanites. The latest sign: the first ToFarm Film Festival, dedicated to farming and farmers, and our future.

It’s too early to tell how bountiful a harvest the six festival entries have produced at the box office, but as far as the cheering squads of farmers are concerned, may the tribe of Dr. Mila How, their sponsor, increase! Knowing Mila and her passion to help farmers – she gives out awards and cash rewards every year to outstanding farmers – she would rather that the tribe of farmers increased – exponentially, if possible.

For Mila, who heads a company that produces and distributes fertilizers and farm equipment, going into movies to tell the story of Farmer Juan is a sign of her optimism in the ability of farmers and their sons and daughters to keep planting for our sake. With filmmaker Maryo J. de los Reyes overseeing the festival from birth to last fade-out in SM cinemas, the six-day festival arrived on the heels of a reel of good news to the farming sector.

First, a new agriculture secretary who will focus on rice sufficiency as a “must, not a choice,” perhaps he’ll even root out the evil smugglers who have perverted the nation’s dependence on farming as a prime industry serving individuals, families, generations. Then came the announcement that Joseph Calata is hunting for partners to send 15 agriculture graduates to Argentina to study soil technology, microfinancing, and postharvesting techniques.

On the glamorous side of farming, advocates of ecotourism and farming tourism are on a roll, all the data available pointing to a business that’s growing in lovely leaps and bounds. Anyone who has any doubt should come see Zac Sarian, this paper’s farmer in residence, and learn what strides are being taken, right in the field, by weekend farmers, urban planters, amateur growers, the whole kit and caboodle. That Zac never runs out of materials to write about and photograph on a daily basis – and he’s been at it for decades, take a bow, Zac! – is proof that farming is in. Let’s keep it green and growing. (Jullie Y. Daza)

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