Kathryn Barroga (R) acknowledges the significant role of agricultural extension workers, particularly Fe Villa (L), in her transformation  from a housewife to a progressive farmer who have helped fellow rice growers in availing of services under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund Program.

“Ready or not, tell yourself to jump.”

When her husband passed away more than 10 years ago, Kathryn Barroga, was only left with one choice – oversee their 5-ha farm while taking care of her two children, then aged 19 and 12 years old. 

Kathryn, a physical therapist by profession, spent her childhood on a rice farm. Despite being exposed to farm life, her parents prioritized her education and discouraged her from working in the fields. 

She was not ready for a new career in farming. Or so she thought. 

A trip to their local government unit in Alfonso Lista, Ifugao was all she needed to help manage the farm left by her husband. She said that the agriculture office, especially Fe Villa, provided technical assistance in starting her new career in agriculture. 

“I do not have knowledge of agriculture then so every time I visit an office, I ask for reading materials. I also joined in farmer field schools,” she said.

In 2020, Kathryn was accredited as inbred seed grower in Ifugao with encouragement  from Fe. She became the manager of the Ifugao Seed Growers Association, an affiliate of Matagoan Agriculture Cooperative, which supplies certified seeds to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund  (RCEF) Seed Program. 

Although she had attended a series of training to prepare her as a seed grower, she wanted more agricultural knowledge.

In 2021, she joined a 17-day training under the RCEF Farm Field School (FFS) and 3-month teaching under the RCEF Rice Specialists Training Course.

“A PalayCheck booklet and other knowledge products were distributed during the FFS. Although I’m  already farming for more than 10 years, I thought that our field entails a lot of understanding and science to optimize yield and reduce farm expenses,” she said.

With the RCEF training, she appreciated more the importance of using high-quality seeds, synchronous planting, and right fertilizer management. She now practices the EAT or applying the right Element and Amount and the Time of applying fertilizer.   

“I can say that I’m now more productive and confident in farming. Recently, I harvested 150-170 cavans per hectare from the usual 100-125 cavans per hectare,” she said.

Presently, Kathryn is known as one of the farmer-leaders who support agricultural programs. Always, she pays forward. She had assisted farmer organizations in availing grants and services from government programs including RCEF seeds, machines, and training. She also ventured into hog production to diversify farm income. 

“Women can do everything if we believe in our strength. Rice farming is not just for men, but also for women. There could be activities that we are limited to do, but we can use other resources to make things happen. That is the power that women have,” she said. 

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute