With the release of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), better extension services for about 2M farmers can be expected as more rice specialists, extension workers, and farmer-leaders are trained under the RCEF-Rice Extension Services Program.
Through a two-week training on modernized production of high-quality inbred rice and seeds, Dr. Glenn Ilar, training coordinator, said PhilRice together with PHilMech capacitates extension workers and farmer-leaders in educating farmers in their areas so that they can cope with the challenge of having cheaper rice from international market.
“This training that we recently completed for farmer-leaders and extensionists of Luzon amplifies the program’s extension services. Farmer-leaders and extensionists are updated on farm technologies and techniques, especially on use and production of quality seeds and farm machines, which they will impart to the farmers by conducting Farmers Field School,” he said.
PalayCheck system – a dynamic rice crop management system, high-quality inbred rice and seeds production, and farm machinery operations, maintenance, and safety are included in the sessions.
Currently, about 30 agricultural extensionists and trainers from Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in the target municipalities under RCEF are being trained in Region V.
Meanwhile, 30 staff from Agricultural Training Institute, regional field offices of the Department of Agriculture, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and PhilRice are undergoing Rice Specialists Training Course in preparation for the implementation of the RCEF program in their areas. They taught around 200 farmers in Llanera and Rizal, Nueva Ecija on modern inbred rice and seed production and mechanization.
PhilRice has also recently completed training about 85 regional and provincial RCEF coordinators who will assist in the RCEF seed distribution program.
“Character formation provided us the competence and the heart to help farmers uplift their lives [in these trying times]. I will not stop sharing the technical knowledge I gained here until the farmers I serve would be able to compete with the ASEAN farmers,” trainee Luisito Parcon of Laguna said.
Series of tracer studies conducted by PhilRice Training Management Services Division show that farmer-trainees share rice production-related technologies such as pest and nutrient management to their fellow farmers and that they are also tapped to teach young farmers.
Results also showed that the skills of trained rice specialists on proposal writing, networking, facilitating, agripreneurship, analyzing farm problems, and decision-making were improved.
Since early 1990s, PhilRice had been regularly training rice specialists starting from the implementation of Integrated Pest Management-KASAKALIKASAN Program, Agricultural Productivity Officers under the Hybrid Rice Program, and UpTech for the Upland Rice program. Rice Sufficiency Officers were also trained, which contributed to the country’s 98% rice self-sufficiency level in 2012.
New breed of extensionists called AgriDoc were trained under “Improving Technology Promotion and Delivery through Capability Enhancement of Next-Gen Rice Extension Professionals and Other Intermediaries” or IPaD. IPaD trainees had reached an average of 3000 farmers, educating them on PalayCheck, pest management, ICT-based applications, and mushroom production.
PhilRice had also trained rebel returnees, military personnel, retirees, and out-of-school-youth on rice and rice-based production.
With funding for six years, RCEF serves as farmers’ safety net under the Rice Tariffication Law, in which collected tariffs are used to improve Filipino rice farmers’ competitiveness.