Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently listed Infomediary Campaign of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) as one of 10 successful youth-focused initiatives in the world.
“Youth in Action” highlighted the seven-year-old project operating in more than 200 schools in the Philippines together with efforts by private and public organizations from Zambia, Zanzibar archipelago, Egypt, Lebanon, Pacific Island States, Guatemala, Mexico, and Bangladesh.
Launched in 2012, the Infomediary Campaign mobilizes high school students to serve as information providers in their rural rice-farming communities. The campaign is a collaborative project among PhilRice, the Department of Education, and the CGIAR – Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security Research Program.
“We developed the schools as the nuclei of rice science information, particularly on rice production technologies and practices that can help smallholder rice farmers cope with the changing climate. We aimed to create alternative communication pathways in agricultural extension, at the same time, promote agriculture as a viable career option and restore the youth’s enthusiasm for rice farming,” Jaime Manalo IV, campaign team lead explained.
Through the Read, Surf, and Text components, the high school students who act as infomediaries, use ICTs and other technologies to search for relevant information for their farmer-parents.
Manalo said the Read strategy allows the youth to browse available reading materials provided by PhilRice to their school libraries. The Surf strategy introduces the Pinoy Rice Knowledge Bank (Pinoyrice), an information portal on rice, to schools with reliable electricity and internet connectivity. The Text strategy revolves around the PhilRice Text Center, an SMS facility that responds to all questions on rice production.
“The partner-schools also established their own rice gardens for the students to practice their learnings, while other fun and informative activities such as quiz bees and study tours were conducted to reinforce lessons to the students in an entertaining manner,” Manalo said.
Since its conception, over 9,000 and 200,000 students were directly and indirectly reached by the Campaign, respectively. More than 12,000 students have sent queries to the PTC for their farmer-parents. The team also documented farmers who have adopted technologies introduced to them by the infomediaries. In 2017, at least 75 teachers reported that they integrated the lessons from the Campaign in their curriculum.
“These 10 initiatives vary in size and number, but they are scalable, adaptable, and can be replicated in other regions and communities around the world. Their examples offer long-term, strategic and country-driven approaches and has empowered young people to be ambassadors of communication, being able to liaise with farmers and play leading roles in developing capacities within their communities,” FAO stated in the book.