A paper on mobilizing the youth to search agriculture information for the farmers received two commendations during the recent Communication Policy Research: south 2014 (CPRsouth2014) conference in Maropeng, South Africa.

The paper, More than just a myth or a theory: Evidence of High School Students performing infomediary roles was included in the top eight researches and was also among the five policy briefs awarded with special commendation. It was chosen among the 22 research papers from Asia and Africa.

Jaime A. Manalo IV, research lead, said that online and offline strategies can complement each other to achieve the bigger goal of providing easy access to cost-reducing and yield-enhancing technologies.

Results were based on the Infomediary Campaign conducted across the country since 2012. The campaign, implemented by the Philippine Rice Research Institute, mobilizes high school students to serve as information providers or infomediaries in their farming communities.

Results show that that disseminating rice information is effective with the combined use of text centers and the internet (online) and set up of rice gardens in agricultural schools for hands-on experience (offline).

While the team optimized the use of several information sources for the students such as the PhilRice Text Center (PTC), Pinoy Rice Knowledge Bank (PRKB), and PhilRice publications during the campaign’s implementation, they also ventured on letting the participating schools put up rice gardens.

Manalo said the top three varieties in their ecosystems including irrigated lowland, rainfed, and upland are featured and the technical-know-how that students acquired from PTC and PRKB are applied in the rice gardens.

“This was an important activity that prompted the students to send in SMS to ask how they can better manage the rice garden entrusted to them,” he said.

The students, Manalo said eventually, can share the learning to the farmers in their communities.

Evaluating seven randomly selected schools among 81 participating schools after a year of the campaign`s national implementation, Manalo and  his  team found that 94% of the students performed their roles as infomediaries, either by sending text messages to PTC, searching information from the PRKB, or reading publications on rice from their school library.

Following results of the second round of reviews, the eight outstanding papers will be published in an ICT policy journal. CPRsouth and Research ICT Africa funded the paper presenters.

Jayson C. Berto, Katherine P. Balmeo,  Oliver C. Domingo, and Fredierick M. Saludez co-authored the paper.

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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