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AGREA: First TESDA-accredited Farm School in Marinduque

AGREA is the first TESDA-accredited farm school in Marinduque to offer a program in Organic Agriculture Production NCII covering competencies in raising organic chicken, producing organic vegetables, producing organic fertilizers and concoctions, applying safety measures in farm operations, practicing career professionalism, and applying safety measures in farm operations, among others. 

AGREA received this Technical-Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Program Registration Certification during the Technical Educational and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Region IV-B (MIMAROPA) regional forum last Thursday, 15 June 2017, at the Department of Agriculture - Agriculture Training Institute (DA-ATI) Regional Center, Barcenaga, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro. 

Representing AGREA, Rafael Seño, Director of Rapport and Communication, received the certificate together with 17 other new farm schools in the region.

This accreditation follows shortly after AGREA was certified by the ATI as an Agricultural Learning Site a few weeks earlier. 

READ: AGREA is now a Certified Organic Agriculture Learning Site

Present during the regional forum and awarding ceremony were Sen. Cynthia Villar; Dr. Luz Taposok, DA-ATI Director; Mr. Edwin Andoyo, TESDA IV-B Assistant Regional Director; and Mr. Pat Andrew Barrientos, ATI IV-B Center Director; together with Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali Jr.; and Naujan Mayor Atty. Mark Marcos. 

NEW SITES FOR LEARNING. Representatives from the newest learning sites and farm schools from around MIMAROPA pose with Senator Villar, Director Taposok, and other key TESDA and ATI officials.

Establishment of Farm Schools in the Philippines
Senator Villar, who is also the Senate Committee Chairman on Agriculture, stressed during the forum that studies by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies revealed four reasons why Filipino farmers can not be competitive and why they do not earn enough:

  1. lack of technology,
  2. lack of mechanization,
  3. lack of financial literacy or business sense, and
  4. inability to access cheap credit

She emphasized that education is instrumental in bringing these barriers down.

"Our aim is to establish a farm school in every town in the Philippines with help of ATI, the Department of Agriculture (DA) through the Farm Tourism Undersecretary, and TESDA," said Senator Villar.

With the enactment into law of Republic Act 10816, otherwise known as the "Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016", and in support of this law, TESDA will accelerate the establishment of Farm Schools in all municipalities nationwide to ensure that poor farmers and fisher folk and their families, relatives, and members of the farm communities, gain the appropriate knowledge, skills, and attitude for increasing their productivity and improving their economic status.

The concept of farm schools is based on the Farm Field Schools (FFS) developed by the UN Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) to help farmers become competitive and seize advantage of the opportunities in the market by operating their farms efficiently and profitably.

"One way to uplift the lives, help the farmers and fisherfolk improve their livelihood, as well as maximize their resources, is to engage them in agribusiness," said TESDA OIC Director Dr. Luz Taposok.

Being a farm school makes a local farm become economically sustainable. The other ways are producing and selling its farm products, as well as to venturing into farm tourism.

"Farm tourism has been proven to be an effective market-oriented extension modality," adds Taposok. "Farm schools encourage the farmers to venture in entrepreneurship and marketing while working in their own farms."

Newest Farm Schools in MIMAROPA
Aside from AGREA, 17 other establishments in Region IV-B MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) were also formally announced as accredited farm schools and learning sites during the event:

  1. Mesa Place, Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro
  2. Anets Garden, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro
  3. DJMV Farm, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro
  4. Kuatro MariaS’ AgroEcology Farm, Victoria, Oriental Mindoro
  5. Colester Farm and Fish Pond, Victoria, Oriental Mindoro
  6. Gabutero Organic Farm, Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro
  7. Gelacio I. Yason Foundation Family Farm School, Roxas, Oriental Mindoro
  8. Mamburao Integrated Farm, Occidental Mindoro
  9. Gadon Farm, Romblon
  10. Guinbirayan Vegetable Growers Association, Romblon
  11. Fernandez Organic Vegetable Farm, Palawan
  12. Dos Por Dos Farm, Palawan
  13. Eve's Agri Farm, Palawan
  14. Virginia dela Cruz Farm, Victoria, Oriental Mindoro
  15. Vencio's Garden Hotel and Restaurant, Calapan, Oriental Mindoro
  16. The Swan Sustainable Farm and Station, Roxas, Oriental Mindoro
  17. Eusebio's Farm, Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro

AGREA as a Farm School 
AGREA has been teaching skills-based farming training to farmers in Marinduque since its establishment in 2015.

RELATED ARTICLE: Vermicomposting: connecting the farmer and the environment

"For almost two years now, AGREA has provided organic farming trainings to Marinduque-based farmers, school teachers, private farm owners, and agriculture students," says Cherrie Atilano, AGREA's President and Founding Farmer.

“Once this partnership with ATI and TESDA is finally started and realized, this will open new opportunities for individuals to access nationally certified organic agriculture training that are within their reach," she added.

"We hope that this certification will encourage other local farms to aspire in becoming schools of agricultural learning. The more farm schools we have locally, the more we can encourage people to believe in farming."

To know more details about AGREA's existing Organic Backyard Gardening Skills Training, Vermicomposting, and Organic Fertilizer and Concoctions Production, call/text AGREA Secretariat through Mobile +63 917 124 0905, Landline (042) 332 0025, or Email agreaph@gmail.com.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016
Farm Field Schools (FFS) by UN FAO
TESDA accredited schools and training centers in the Philippines


Written by Rafael Seño

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