Twenty-one schools located across the country will serve as venues to teach farmer-trainors about farm mechanization and inbred seeds production.
During the hearing of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, Senator Cynthia Villar identified the 21 schools where farmers can avail of free training courses on rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, inbred seed production, farm mechanization, farm machinery servicing and maintenance.
Under Republic Act 11203 or the rice tariffication law, the P10 billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) will have a P1 billion allocation for skills training of farmers and knowledge and technology transfer through farm schools nationwide.
“We cannot expect the farmer to mechanize or to learn how to produce inbred seeds without education and extension program.”
“We cannot expect the farmer to mechanize or to learn how to produce inbred seeds without education and extension program so we are identifying the schools where we can teach, train the trainors and the farmer field school where the trainors will teach so that we can reach the farmers,” Villar said.
The RCEF allocates P5 billion for the procurement of farm equipment by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech); P3 billion to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) for the inbred seeds program; P1 billion for cheap credit facility; and P1 billion for skills development.
This portion for skills training will be divided among training providers such as PhilMech (P100 million), PhilRice (P100 million), Agriculture Training Institute/ATI (P100 million), and P700 million for the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
For clarity of functions and extension modality, PhilMech and PhilRice will provide ATI and TESDA with a training module and will conduct training of trainor classes. ATI and TESDA will promote the same training modules among farmers, via Farmers Field Schools and TESDA Accredited Farm Schools in identified rice-producing municipalities.
The skills training program will include courses that will enable farmers to operate and maintain farm equipment such as tillers, tractors, seeders, threshers, rice planters, harvesters, and irrigation pumps. The machinery will be used for land preparation, crop establishment, harvesting and threshing, drying, and milling.
The identified schools are:
· Region I- Don Mariano Marcos State University in Batac;
· Region II- PhilRice, San Mateo, Isabela;
· Region III- PhilMech and PhilRice in the Science City of Muñoz; and Villar Sipag Farm School, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan;
· Region IV-A- University of the Philippines- Los Banos, Laguna; and Villar Sipag Farm School, Bacoor, Cavite;
· Region IV-B- PhilRice, Santa Cruz, Mindoro Oriental.
· Region V- PhilMech, Pili, Camarines Sur; and PhilRice, Ligao, Albay;
· Visayas- Villar SIPAG Farm School, San Miguel, Iloilo; and PhilRice, Murcia, Negros Occidental
· Eastern Visayas- PhilMech, Abuyog, Leyte; and University of Eastern Philippines, Catarman, Northern Samar;
· Mindanao- Western Mindanao State University for Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay and the rest of the Zamboanga Peninsula;
· Region X- Central Mindanao University, Bukidnon; and PhilMech, Cagayan de Oro City.
· Region XI- PhilMech, Davao City; and Villar Sipag Farm School, Davao City;
· SOCCSKSARGEN- Region 12 Philmech, Midsayap, North Cotabato;
· Region XIII- PhilRice, RT Romualdez, Agusan del Norte.
The veteran legislator said more schools will be added in the list to include the schools of ATI.
“The 21 schools will be able to teach farmers from 54 provinces in two to three months.”
Villar also noted that at the rate of having two sessions of 2-week training programs in a month, the 21 schools will be able to teach farmers from 54 provinces in two to three months.
The lady senator clarified that despite the inclusion of four Villar SIPAG Farm Schools in the list, the Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance (Villar SIPAG), a foundation run by the Villar Family, is not seeking accreditation by TESDA and will not be paid by public funds for the use of its facilities.
“We are offering the free use of our facilities to help reach more farmers as soon as possible,” she said.