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Farmer’s children in the province of Aurora are now active infomediaries or those who access information for others after joining the Sagot ko ang magulang ko!: Isang kampanya upang hikayatin ang mga kabataang maging infomediaries conducted in the province’s two national high schools.

Jaime A. Manalo IV, team lead and communication specialist based at Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), noted that the recently concluded 10-month campaign helped farmer’s children to be more participative in discussing rice farming in their households.

“During the focus group discussions, our campaign participants from Bayanihan and Maria Aurora National High Schools said they became more confident to talk about rice farming in their household. Unlike before, when only their parents decide on their farms, these children no longer hesitate in giving recommendations,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nelly Attiw, Bayanihan National High School student, said that she now volunteers to search for information not just for her parents but also for others.

“One time I even borrowed materials from our school library to find the answer to the query of my father’s friend,” she said.

Since April last year, Manalo’s group had been implementing online and offline strategies to engage more than a hundred students to be infomediaries.

Among the online strategies included the PhilRice Farmers’ Text Center (PFTC), a texting facility that answers queries to rice production and the Pinoy Rice Knowledge Bank, a website that contains most information on Philippine rice farming.

The offline strategies included on-site activities such as the infomediary quiz bee, putting up of rice gardens, and placement of publications on rice production in the school libraries.

Manalo and his team observe a significant change to the messages sent by the students in the PFTC or 0920-9111398.

“At the start, most of the participants sent messages asking for the whereabouts of the campaign team members and endless hi’s and hello’s. But when the activities went full swing, the students started sending sensible questions such as which varieties are best suited for their conditions and others,” Manalo said.

More than 300 text messages, with 50 new unique numbers, were received from the students during the course of campaign implementation.

Oliver C. Domingo, campaign team member and text center agent at the PFTC said text messages on rice varieties and integrated pest management topped the list of frequently asked questions of the students.

“We want the students to be at the frontline in looking for the answers to the most pressing concerns in the rice farm. It is true that we have a long way to go in engaging the youth in agriculture. What’s important is we’ve already started,” Manalo 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