The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the Department of Agriculture are collaborating to upgrade the skills of rice farmers in the region.
The Tesda and DA through the Agricultural Training Institute started the training for farmers in Kalinga in 2019.
The training, which is under the Rice Extension Service Program (RESP) of the Tesda, provides scholarships to rice farmers who undergo a training that lasts for the duration of the “rice cycle,” or from planting to milling.
Tesda-Kalinga Provincial Director Victor Bioso said the trainees stay for one day in the classroom and the rest of the days at the field for immersion.
“It’s like industry training. They also have modules to read at home and apply on field,” he said.
Bioso said farmers learned the proper application of fertilizers and pesticides and its use for specific insects that damage crops, and when not to use it to retain insects that are useful to the farm.
He said trainees are also taught how to use and properly operate equipment provided by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (Philmech), the government institution that provides technologies and equipment to help boost farming methods.
He said mechanization has increased the yield gathered from farms.
“Ang half hectare noon, nakakapag-produce lang ng from 30 to 40 cavans ngayon hanggang 80 cavans na,” Bioso said.
Bioso said farms that produced 100 cavans of palay are now able to produce 130 to 140 cavans.
Bioso said rice farmers are evolving from just using systems and knowledge passed on by their elders to improved systems involving new knowledge and technologies that reduce the cost of production and increase yield.
“Because they learn the proper use of technology and fertilizer, they do not use so much fertilizer any more so they do not have to spend so much on them,” he said.
He said the training also allows farmers to produce seedlings for their next planting season, thus there is no need to spend on the purchase of new planting materials.
“Mas napapababa nila ang cost of production,” he added.
Tesda has allotted P17.2 million for this year’s rice extension service program scholarship.
Kalinga has been receiving the DA’s Gawad Saka Award for producing a huge quantity of commercial rice contributing to the rice requirement of the country.
Kalinga is known for its “Tabuk rice,” an aromatic and soft variety.
Tesda Regional Director Dante Navarro earlier said the region aimed to start the operation of the Cordillera Schools Institute Training Education (CSITE) this year which would offer a program on information and communications technology (ICT).
A measure creating the CSITE was passed into law in 2019.
“Ngayon, sinisimulan na natin turuan ang farmers ng technologies at iba’t ibang skills. Hindi na nalalayo na darating ang panahon robotics na ang farming natin. Ito na ang industry revolution na gusto natin para mapaganda pa ng husto ang sitwasyon natin,” Navarro said. DA-Cordillera Regional Executive Director Cameron Odsey in an earlier interview said they have a demonstration farm at the Bureau of Plant Industry compound in Guisad here which is computer operated.
“It is a partnership with South Korea that farmers can visit and see how agriculture can be done using advanced technology. This is the future of agriculture that we are aiming for,” Odsey said. – PNA