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Often, we only see people get their awards, but we hardly learn about their stories. We know that someone must have done something extraordinary, but we do not always get the chance to know more about the person’s motivations for doing good.

This year’s Dangal ng PhilRice Outstanding Junior Development Worker, Jose Arnel E. Cordova, 35, shares his stories as a development staff member in PhilRice Negros, which serves farmers and other rice stakeholders in Western and Central Visayas.

As a development worker, his work focuses on the implementation of development programs such as the Rice Business Innovation System Community (RiceBis) and Knowledge, Sharing, and Learning (KSL). Among his responsibilities are to localize, print, and disseminate knowledge products. He also serves as PhilRice Negros’s training specialist.

A different road to happiness

In 2007, he earned his BS Agricultural Extension degree from the Central Philippine State University in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental. Arnel shares agriculture was not really his first choice as he originally wanted to be an architect. There were several reasons why this had been the case. First, architecture is far more expensive to pursue than agriculture. Second, he qualified for the President Diosdado Macapagal Agrarian Scholarship Program (PDMASP), a scholarship for students to take any agriculture-related program.

Arnel says that choosing a different path opened many opportunities and learning experiences for him. “As an agricultural development worker, every time I help farmers, uplift them, and somehow change their lives or see them smile, I feel fulfilled,” he shares.

Serving his hometown

Right after graduation, he immediately worked as a Science Research Assistant in PhilRice Negros. From the very start of his career, he has always been involved in hands-on agriculture and development work. His passion to help farmers and other agriculture stakeholders grows even more as he works for his hometown in Negros Occidental. He says his work allows him to stay with his family and, at the same time, help improve the rice farming industry of their province and region.

Arnel shares that as a development worker, his greatest contribution in agriculture is mobilizing the farmers to achieve higher yield. In 2013-2016, participating farmers in their project with the National Irrigation System Agri-Support Component (NISRIP) were able to achieve a 2-ton average yield increase! There were some who managed to achieve a 5-ton increase!

Arnel shares that it inspires him whenever he is able to somehow address the needs of farmers in different communities.

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Dreams for rice farmers

Arnel says he always includes the farmers in his prayers. He always dreams to be an instrument to answer the prayers of the local rice farmers.

His dreams for his family and for the farmers in their community inspire him to be a better development worker. In fact, he plans to pursue further studies to enhance his knowledge and skills in development work and in agriculture in general.

“I am planning to take a postgraduate course in Rural Development or Development Communication, anything related to development. I want to pursue my master’s and, if possible, even doctorate degree. I want to hone my skills further so I can step up the services I give to farmers,” Arnel says.

‘One of the best gifts’

Recently, Arnel was awarded as Outstanding Junior Development Worker during PhilRice’s 32nd anniversary. According to him, he had mixed emotions when he knew he won the award.

“Actually, I didn’t expect to win. I was very thankful as the 7 November awarding was pretty close to my birthday, November 10. Hence, I posted on Facebook that this is indeed one of my best birthdays ever. I also consider this as an early Christmas gift,” Arnel shares.

His award, Arnel says, has heightened his passion even more for his work. He says “All we have to do is to help and inspire—everything else will follow.”

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute