DAGUPAN CITY, PANGASINAN, DECEMBER 8, 2007 (STAR) By Rudy A. Fernandez — When Leonila Arguerro decides to come home after working for years as a nurse in England, she is certain on where to primarily invest her earnings.

This early, she is looking forward to putting her money in shrimp farming in her hometown in Sta. Cruz, Zambales.

Specifically, in the production of Penaeus vannamei or white leg shrimp.

Fact is, though out there in England, she completed an intensive “Fisheries School-on-the-Air on Penaeus vannamei Culture” conducted by three government and private entities from July 7 to Sept. 9, 2007.

The PSA was aired in the weekly program “Bago ‘Yan, Ah!” of Radio Station DZMM under the joint sponsorship of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development (DOST-PCAMED), Santeh Feeds Corp., Philippine Foundation of Rural Broadcasters (PFRB) and DZMM.

Before the 14-week school-on-the-air training course was started last July 7, Arguerro was home for a vacation. It was then that she learned of the radio course.

She enrolled in the FSA and diligently “attended the class” when she was already back to her work in the United Kingdom. Although the program was aired in the Philippines every Sunday from 4 to 6:30 p.m., she heard it in England starting at 10 a.m., which is her off-hours.

The FSA’s format is that a resource person delivers a lecture on Penaeus vannamei and, toward the end of the lecture, poses a question which the enrollees answer by text through a cell phone.

PCAMRD told The STAR that Arguerro religiously listened to the lectures and sent her answers to the questions posed by the lecturers.

In fact, the Zambales nurse was among the top 32 finishers of the course.

The 315 graduates received their certificates of completion at a fitting graduation ceremony held last Nov. 16 at the Asian Fisheries Academy (AFA) in Bonuan Binloc, Dagupan City. They included fish farmers, fisheries technicians and students, fishfarm operators, and businessmen.

Arguerro was conferred the certificate in absentia, along with a domestic helper in Singapore, Lhyn Bantillo, and many others who were not able to attend the graduation ceremonies in view of the distance between their hometowns and this city.

Most of the 315 graduates came from 21 provinces — Isabela, La Union, Pangasinan, Zambales, Bataan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, Batangas, Oriental Mindoro, Laguna, Quezon, Marinduque, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, and Capiz.

The others came from the Metro Manila cities of Manila, Quezon, Makati, Pasay, Las Piñas, Parañaque, Muntinlupa, Pasig, Marikina, Antipolo, Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela.

The certificates of graduation were handed to the graduates by BFAR-NFRDI Executive Director Dr. Westly Rosario, Santeh Feeds Corp. president Phillip Ong, DZMM/ABS-CBN station manager and PFRB president Angelo Palmones during the graduation ceremonies.

The FSA covered 14 lessons discussed by the following resource persons: Dr. Rosario Ong, PCAMRD executive director Dr. Rafael D. Guerrero III, Dr. Renato Songco of Guagua (Pampanga), Carlos Chan of Agri-Fish World, Inc., Roberto Bravo of NFRDI, Sandico Bravo of Binmaley (Pangasinan), lawyer Herman Cruz of Calatagan (Batangas), Jennifer Mata of JLV Farm (Calatagan), Dr. Leobert dela Peña of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center-Aquaculture Department (SEAFDEC-AQD), Cristeta Sancantos of SFC, Rosario Ragasa of NFRDI, Amado Emaguin of the Department of Trade and Industry-Board of Investment, and Ernie Alulod, a growout technician.

The topics covered included P. vannamei raising, potentials of vannamei, sources of postlarvae and their prices, transport of postlarvae, vannamei culture, diseases and how to avoid them, harvesting, sorting of the harvest, expenses and incomes derived from vannamei production, domestic and export markets, experiences in white shrimp production, and additional information and technical support.

The Fisheries School-on-the-Air program is now on its seventh year.

The course on P. vannamei was launched “to increase awareness on fisheries technologies and encourage fishfarmers to adopt the same for additional income and livelihood opportunities, and educate them to become more efficient and responsible in their operations for the sustainability of the shrimp industry.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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