Teaching farmers one page at a time

Eranio A. Mojica was standing beside a poster by the door of their office as he waited for the employees of the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to arrive. He was tapped to be part of an activity that would feature farmers-recipients of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund – Rice Extension Services Program (RCEF-RESP).

Mojica, chair of the five-year-old First Damayan Bagsit Irrigators Association in Brgy. Bulawen, Palauig, Zambales, can be seen smiling even if half of his face was covered with a face mask as the PhilRice staffers approached him.

“Welcome, Ma’am and Sir! These are the posters on PalayTandaan that you sent us,” he greeted the PhilRice staffers with eagerness.

The First Damayan Bagsit is among the hundreds of farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) reached by the RCEF Extension Program.

As part of the goals of the program to enhance the skills and capabilities of the farmers on modernized rice farming for improved competitiveness and income, the association led by Mojica received PalayCheck primers, Gabay sa Makabagong Pagpapalayan brochures, posters, banners, and handouts.

Some of the reading materials are displayed in the lobby of their office.

“We only have a few remaining copies here because every time we conduct a meeting, we distribute these materials to the farmer-attendees,” Mojica said.

According to him, farmers from other Irrigators’ Association also received similar reading materials.

Mojica, at 49 years old, has a youthful glow. Perhaps it comes from his positive outlook in life.

“We should strive to gain more knowledge by continuously seeking information especially now that we live in a very competitive generation. We should be updated in terms of skills and knowledge,” Mojica proudly said.

This perspective has positively infected the farmers that he leads because after distributing the reading materials to them, he has seen a change in their behavior.

“Here in Barangay Bulawen, you can easily tell that around half of the farmers’ population still practice the traditional way of farming. Some would apply 80-100kg of seeds for a hectare. But after reading the materials we were given, I have noticed during our discussions that they were convinced to lessen their usage of seeds to 40kg per hectare,” Mojica shared.

Lucille Tagalog, 28, from the same barangay, said those reading materials helped her grow as a farmer.

“In my five years of rice farming, the things I learned from simple things like the leaflets that PhilRice made improved my ways of farming. Now, I only use less than a bag of 40kg seeds for my 0.75ha rice area. I am truly blessed to be guided by these materials so I would love to receive more of them,” Tagalog said.

Moreover, Mojica also shared that most farmers in their association now know how to select high-quality seeds from the top-recommended varieties.

“With the information they gathered from the RCEF learning materials, the farmers in Barangay Bulawen now patronize NSIC Rc 480 and Rc 222,” he said.

As a farmer-leader, Mojica believed the participation of farmers in programs that aim to help them is very valuable. Thus, he continues to encourage farmers to get involved and always be hungry for learning.

“There are still so many technologies and knowledge that we can learn as long as we don’t stop learning. To my fellow farmers, let’s be proactive in joining farmer groups and their meetings because through this, we can be united towards success,” Mojica stressed.  

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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