Sen. Villar Challenges ATI to Teach, Assist More Farmers

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Senator Cynthia Villar calls for more efforts to help farmers, fishers, and agricultural workers who are at the forefront of the agriculture sector.

DILIMAN, Quezon City—Senator Cynthia Villar urged the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), as it marks its 31st year, to ensure that more farmers and fishers are equipped with the appropriate know-how that can help them maximize the opportunities offered through the programs and services of the government.

In her keynote message during the Institute’s 31st anniversary celebration, Villar cited studies that show how lack of technical expertise, mechanization, financial literacy, and inadequate access to cheap credit keep Filipino farmers from being more successful and profitable.

“Continuing education and training is the key, as we all know. We need to teach farmers how to be able to access credit programs through banks and cooperatives where interest rates are much lower than the ‘5-6’ lending scheme that they are more accustomed to,” she said.

She then thanked the ATI for being a “dependable partner” in her goal to uplift the lives of farmers, fishers, and their families by making them competent and capable.

“Increasing food production and farm productivity alone cannot move them permanently out of poverty, we must also teach more farmers capacity-building strategies and introduce them to new technologies and approaches,” she stated, sharing in particular the Institute’s role in the training-workshops held through Villar SIPAG, or Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance.

With access to education and training among farmers and fishers as part of her legislative agenda as the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, Villar assured that budget allocations for education are being made in development programs for various industries like fisheries, coconut, and sugar.

Villar also enjoined more farms and private organizations to become farm schools, Learning Sites, or training centers as these will offer them more ways to earn, “Farmers are small businessmen and their farm is their small business. Hence, they should be able to learn the principles of business.”

She likewise underscored the importance of strong collaboration, coordination, and cooperation to realize sooner the goal to “improve the situation of farmers and fishers who remain among the poorest in the Philippines which is an agricultural country.”

Together with Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary for Operations Ariel Cayanan, ATI Officer-in-Charge Director Luz Taposok, and ATI Deputy Director Alfredo Aton, Villar led some of the anniversary festivities including the ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the new ATI facility and vehicles and the ATIng Merkado sa SiyuDAd.

Prior to these, they graced the launching of seven new publications of the ATI and the awarding of the certificates for the ISO 9001:2015 for the Central Office and seven expansion training centers.

“The DA sees the ATI as the agency that will go down to the grassroots to teach our farmers with ‘complete’ knowledge that will make them productive and competitive,” Cayanan said.

Taposok, on the other hand, shared the continuing efforts of the Institute to promote urban gardening to teach more Filipinos produce their own food and help ensure affordable and sufficient food for everyone.

The ATI’s 31st anniversary celebration was held on January 29, 2018 and gathered its workforce from the Central Office and network of training centers; former directors and employees; and partners from different government, private, and non-government institutions.