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One of the participants actively operates the four-wheeled tractor during the hands-on activity.

SAN MIGUEL, ILOILO – As the year begins, 42 new facilitators composed of Agricultural Extension Workers (AEWs), Farmers, Learning Site Cooperators and partners from different Government Agencies in the Region are trained in the Training of Trainers on the Production of High Quality Inbred Rice and Seeds, and Farm Mechanization on January 20 – 31, 2020 at Villar SIPAG Farm School, Brgy. San Jose, San Miguel, Iloilo.

Hon. Cynthia Villar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, graced the opening ceremony together with representatives from different municipalities of Iloilo and other government agencies. As the author of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Program (RCEP), Sen. Villar expressed her gratitude and support for the success of it. However, she also mentioned some constraints and difficulties, like the adaptation process of farming technology and funding sources. Moreover, she explained the purpose of Rice Tarrification Law and its impact to the nation’s rice sector and industry. She further emphasized the importance of managing resources properly and expressed the positive impact of the said law. According to her, in order to be like Vietnam, farmers should use high quality inbred and self-produced seeds. “I am positive that in few years, we will become rice competitive. Rest assured that the government is doing everything to ease the burden of our rice farmers. It’s time to go out and make sure to promote the trainings to our agricultural workers, for them to become experts, and help decrease the rice price and make it sufficient,” she added.

The participants have undergone series of lectures and hands-on activities on PalayChecks, Machinery Operation and Safety, Financial Analysis, Agro-Ecosystem Analysis (AESA), and Policies and Guidelines on Seed Certification. They were also given the opportunity to operate various farm machineries such as four-wheel tractor with cultivator, and walk-behind transplanter. In addition, they were given the chance to practice their facilitation and presentation skills during the microteaching activity. They also crafted and presented action plans for their respective organizations to include the provision of technical services and establishment of Learning Site. Finally, they performed the actual field monitoring to ensure the condition of rice against pest and diseases, and nutrient deficiency.

The trainees were expected to support the program to reach the farmers and deliver trainings to the field. Mr. Ariel Taton, one of the participants, expressed that they will spread out the right concept of Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) for the betterment of farming industry.

During the closing program, Dr. Eden DLR. Bautista, ATI Region 6’s Center Director, congratulated the participants and reminded them of the responsibilities as future partners in agricultural development. She discussed the priorities of the program and the efforts of partner government agencies in taking the challenge towards “Masaganang Ani, Mataas na kita”. Moreover, she acknowledged their inspiring stories of shifting from their previous profession to farming.