The Provincial Learning and Resource Center of Cagayan, Philippines recently held a storytelling session on the only Filipino children’s book on biotech corn seeds titled Lina’s Town Rises Again.
Lina’s Town Rises Again was written for elementary school children to develop a basic understanding of the impact of agriculture products, specifically Dekalb corn seeds in social, economic and environmental terms. It touches on the themes of sustainability, collaboration and safety by narrating the true and inspiring story of how agricultural biotechnology seeds positively transformed a woman farmer’s life, and enabled her farming community to recover economically in the aftermath of a devastating typhoon.
Farmer Consolacion Reyes’ life turned upside down when Typhoon Pablo not only destroyed her house and crops but also her community – homes, farms, and livelihoods. She and her neighbors were forced to take shelter at an evacuation center when the entire municipality of Lambayong went under water. Upon returning to the village, they saw that the super typhoon had destroyed everything.
Seeing her difficulty, a good samaritan lent her money which she used to buy a bag of Dekalb corn biotech seeds. Her harvest was abundant, so after some time, she was able to get back on her feet. A few harvests later and she started to earn consistently higher income. Now, she is among the more prosperous farmers in her town.
The story is authored by Chat Ocampo, Corporate Engagement Lead – Philippines, who has previously authored two children’s books. The illustration-rich book is written in an informative writing style, keeps the interest of young readers while conveying some highly technical information on seeds, to deliver the messages of sustainability and safety.
By writing this book, Ocampo feels she is able to do her share in “keeping the younger generations interested in matters related to agriculture while reaching out to equally important societal audiences such as young parents and teachers.”
The storytelling session conducted by Professor Venus I. Guyos, Director of Libraries of the University of Saint Louis in Tuguegarao, was attended by Cagayan’s provincial officers including Provincial Administrator Rosalinda Callang. Cagayan is the second largest corn-growing province in the Philippines. In 2013, it topped all provinces which grew corn by producing 22.98 percent of the total corn production.
Meantime, two learning hubs for elementary school children maintained by the Department of Education in Davao City continue to hold storytelling sessions with the book. The ages of students attending these sessions range from 5 to 10 years old.
So far, Monsanto Philippines has conducted storytelling sessions in 3 cities including Davao City which is the most influential city in Mindanao, Philippines. These sessions have reached more than 7,000 students from 36 schools (30 schools in Davao City, five in Tuguegarao City and one science elementary school in Quezon City). The Biotech Coalition of the Philippines has also distributed copies of the book to key government offices and public libraries.