In an effort to reach as many farmers as possible amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Department of Agriculture (DA) will harness the power of radio into a unified distance learning program on modern rice agriculture, dubbed as “Makabagong Pagsasaka sa Himpapawid.”

Agriculture Secretary William Dar recently received the “Manual of Operations of the School-on-the-Air on Smart Rice Agriculture (SOA-SRA),” that provides step-by-step process, concepts, strategies, and best practices in the conduct of educational radio programs.

The SOA-SRA targets to provide learning program in provinces with average yields of less than four tons per hectare, initially serving 300,000 rice farmer-enrollees within two years.

“There is relevance in delivering the news, and not only to deliver news, but also to enhance the capabilities of farmers.”

“There is relevance in delivering the news, and not only to deliver news, but also to enhance the capabilities of farmers,” Dar said.

The program — developed and facilitated by the joint task force on scaling rice technologies, composed of the DA and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) — identified the urgency to mainstream also the Philippine-IRRI Collaborative Rice R4D Program (PICRP) outputs such as NextGen varieties, Rice Crop Manager (RCM), Philippine Rice Information System (PRiSM), and Pest Risk Identification and Management (PRIME), among others, to rice farmers. Research funds for these technologies were funded by DA, through the Bureau of Agricultural Research.

The Cagayan Valley Region served as the program’s pilot area with over 10,000 enrollees.

The DA-Region Field Offices, in partnership with the Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI), Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (DA-PhilMech), Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI), state universities and colleges (SUCs), and local radio networks, will jointly implement the initiative.

It will be simultaneously conducted in DA-owned and sponsored radio stations, Philippine Broadcasting Service (PBS) Radyo Pilipinas, Philippine Information Agency (PIA), community-based radio stations, and members of the Philippine Federation of Rural Broadcasters (PFRB).

The SOA-SRA will focus on learning program on DA-IRRI cutting edge technologies, along with PalayCheck system and broader context on climate change.

Participating radio stations and rural broadcasters will also be provided with radio plugs, canned interviews, and ready-to-be-aired scripts and CDs produced through a pilot radio campaign of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in Southeast Asia (CCAFS SEA) and PFRB project titled “Climate Change: i-Broadkas Mo”.

“The SOA-SRA must be embraced as a family activity.”

In his message, the agriculture chief said that the SOA-SRA must be embraced as a family activity.

“Other members of the family must also participate in this learning process, so there will be an exchange of learning ideas among them,” the agriculture head stressed.

The SOA-SRA will be launched this September.

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