To upgrade the rice production know-how of farmers and enable competitiveness in the rice industry, the Technical Education and Skill Development Authority (TESDA) upskilled 175 farmers from the 3rd Congressional District of Iloilo in a 14-week Farmers Field School (FFS).
Fifty farmers from Badiangan, 50 from Lambunao, and 75 from Mina graduated in the season-long training on the production of high-quality inbred rice seeds, seed certification, and farm mechanization offered by TESDA under the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund – Rice Extension Services Program (RCEF-RESP) Scholarship.
With a P700-million yearly budget out of P10-billion RCEF, TESDA is mandated to train farmers on rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production, farm mechanization, and technology transfer through farm schools nationwide. Ephrathah Farms in Brgy. Sariri, Badiangan is one of the TESDA accredited farm schools in Iloilo.
RCEF trainer Solmmy A. Ojario said they began the lectures and hands-on training in rice farming using the Palay Check System and farm machinery operation and maintenance in April this year.
“As an accredited trainer of TESDA, it is our responsibility to be resourceful and to offer broad knowledge on rice production to farmers. We aim to increase the palay performance of farmers from four to five metric tons per hectare average yield,” he added.
On the other hand, DA Western Visayas Regional Information Officer James Earl E. Ogatis urged rice farmers to strengthen their associations and cooperatives to avail themselves of big-ticket projects from the DA, such as in the form of farm tractors and machinery.
“You cannot apply the technical knowledge on rice mechanization you have learned from the FFS if you do not have machinery in your respective farms. That is why you need to put up farmers’ associations with service-oriented leaders like that of the Mina Municipal Federation of Farmers Association (MMFFA), a 12-year-old Farm Service Provider here in Iloilo,” said Ogatis.
For MMFFA president Helen S. Bolivar, farmers could attain favorable palay production if they apply the recommended rice production protocols and techniques they learned from the training.
Meanwhile, Ephrathah Farms General Manager and TVI Head Engr. Ed Roderick V. Cañuto said that aside from RCEF graduates, there were as well 25 graduates who capped the 13-day training in “Raising Organic Hogs”, 25 farmers who finished 11-day training in “Raising Organic Small Ruminants” and another 25 graduates of 29-day Organic Agriculture Production NC II training through TESDA Private Education Student Financial Assistance.
Also present at the graduation were Kathlyn Carmelo from Villar Sipag Farm School, representatives from West Visayas State University Lambunao Campus, and TESDA Iloilo Provincial Office. ### (Sheila Mae H. Toreno/DA-RAFIS 6)