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Build more farm schools: DA-ATI exec

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—The head of the Department of Agriculture’s training arm in MIMAROPA Region (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) is encouraging farmers to help in the government’s thrust to teach more people to become farmers themselves by setting up learning sites and farm schools. 

Pat Andrew Barrientos, Center Director of the Agriculture Training Institute (ATI) in the region said there is a huge need of farming institutions nationwide even as the government is allocating over P700 million yearly to fund these. 

“We are targeting around at least three farm schools or learning sites per municipality. [But] nationwide, we only have about 30 farm schools or learning sites, so it’s really inadequate,” Barrientos said during the side lines of a regional summit of farm schools and learning sites for agriculture in MIMAROPA held at Yamang Bukid Farm, Barangay Bacungan, in this city.

READ: MIMAROPA farm learning sites boost cooperation

Barrientos said a huge fund that should have benefitted the farmers would be reverted to government coffers if there would not be enough farm schools established.

“That’s why we are encouraging our farmers to join us in our program. We will guide them, teach them. Make their children engage in agriculture and realize there is money in agriculture right now,” the ATI regional chief said.

He said participation of the private sector is vital to the success of the program as the agency lacks manpower.

“Our requirements are not that stringent so farmers can easily comply with them. Just submit a letter of intent, attend trainings given by DA-ATI and that you must own at least a hectare of property we can use as demo farm,” said Barrientos.

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Barrientos cited as example the case of Yamang Bukid Farm, a 20-plus hectare farm tourism destination site which now fast becoming a place of learning for farming.

“Yamang Bukid is a private entity that trained at ATI. It saw the program about becoming a learning site and applied to become an accredited and certified one,” he said.

The training hall in Yamang Bukid Farm, Puerto Princesa Palawan. Image by JM Zap

In pointing out the viability of a farm becoming a farm school or learning site, Barrientos said a farmer who operates a farm school or learning site can earn up to P140,000 per batch of up to 25 student-scholars per month.

“When you become a farm school, what’s good is that you teach people, you help the community and you also make money. It’s a win-win situation,” he added.

He assured the would-be farm schools to not worry about where and how to get student-scholars because the government has also provided incentives to those who want to learn in these farm schools and learning sites.

Barrientos said the government’s Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is giving allowances to student-scholars in ATI-accredited farm schools.

READ: Free farming education plus benefits await less fortunate youth through UAQTEA

Upon completion of these courses, graduates are given national competency certifications which they can use when they seek farming jobs locally or abroad, he said.

“We are instilling a sense of pride to our farmers who earn NC II certificates even if they do not have a college diploma,” the ATI official said.

Barrientos called on farmers to take advantage government programs meant to help uplift their lives.

“All we have to do is to guide them, and the farmers should be guided accordingly. They should have the commitment, willingness, and dedication to learn and see the benefit of the program,” he added.

Feature photo by JM Zap

Juan Lim | Yamang Bukid Farm
Original Publication 10:15 AM, 25 February 2020
Republished with permission 2:00 PM, 4 March 2020

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