Guimba, Nueva Ecija—Sec. Isidro S. Lapeña of Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA) emphasized the need for training extension workers under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF)-Extension Program.
“Our role is important because when we extend the knowledge we learned from training, we are basically lifting farmers from poverty. If we are able to do that, everything else will follow,” Lapeña said.
During his recent talk with the participants of Rice Specialists’ Training Course (RSTC) led by the Technology Management and Services Division of DA-PhilRice, Lapeña said that with the training, extensionists can hone farmers’ skills and help them reduce their farm expenses.
“As farmers are focused on their activities, we need to reach out to them. TESDA targets to establish provincial training centers within the year to ensure that all areas will receive the proper training support. I’m glad that TESDA and the Department of Agriculture are one in helping farmers become competitive,” he said.
Before the RSTC trainees met Lapeña, they introduced proper nutrient management and new high-yielding varieties to more than a hundred farmers from the town’s four barangays participating in the Farmers’ Field School.
As of February, PhilRice had produced 30 RSTC graduates and 112 farmer-graduates from Llanera and Rizal, Nueva Ecija.
Two RSTC batches are ongoing in Nueva Ecija and Agusan with 26 and 17 participants, respectively. Two more batches of RSTC are also scheduled in PhilRice Central Experiment Station and in PhilRice Isabela, on May to October. Training of trainers, led by PhilRice, is also being conducted in 11 batches with more than 200 participants.
After the RSTC, the graduates are expected to primarily support RCEF extension program by leading the conduct of trainings and other knowledge sharing and learning activities. They can also help provide technical assistance to farm schools by serving as resource persons. But for this particular TESDA batch, their task is mainly to conduct trainings for farmers, because of the role of their office as stipulated in RA 11203.
PhilRice leads the RSTC to help enhance farmers’ skills especially on rice production. Other training activities, which are part of the RCEF Rice Extension Support Program, are implemented in partnership with the Agricultural Training Institute, Philippine Center for Postharvest Mechanization, and TESDA.