What Works and What Nots: Travails of a Week-long Extensionist, Part 1

The Tabo sa Umahan (Market in the Farm) is an activity sponsored by the Provincial Agriculture Office of Misamis Oriental as part of its week-long 83rd founding anniversary celebration held recently. Local agencies within the province put up well-designed booths to showcase the products and services of every municipality.
 
It was in this event that I got to experience my travails of a week-long extensionist since I got to meet our clients from all walks of life and how they looked at our programs and services from their own point of views.
 
Looking at the municipal booths, I could say that bamboo is still the most popular building material being used. This could be because of the “bahay kubo” mentality or because it is cheaper and easy to procure while being aesthetically pleasing. Inside the booths were various agricultural produce, mostly vegetables and fruits. Most displays were raw materials and only few were processed.
 
National government agencies were also given booths to display their services and programs. In our booth, we had various IEC materials for distribution and some vegetables locally grown from our garden in our office. Since we labeled the vegetables “organically grown”, all of them were sold out. Nobody even questioned us on the veracity of the claim. In fact, others have the notion that organically grown and organic are one and the same. I can vouch for this because people who pass by and those who bought our vegetables exclaim “oh organic”. I wanted to go and explain that organically grown and organic vegetables are not always synonymous. But, what the heck, all were sold out and the people who bought them seemed to be in a hurry. 
 
Maybe it is the magic word “ORGANICally” or our price was way below the prices compared to those sold in the supermarkets with labels “organic vegetables.” But then again, our vegetables were bought like hotcakes. It’s just that our vegetable were limited that  we sold everything on the first day. 
 
It’s good that one of our assisted 4-H Clubs placed their vermicast in our booth the next day so we had again something to sell. In this, we got queries on what was the product all about and how it should be used. Most queries pertained to its application to flowers and vegetables maybe because Cagayan de Oro is an urban place and most visitors are city dwellers.
 
We also got queries like “What crop are you recommending that will give me good income?” This is a common question which needs a lot of diplomacy in answering for extension workers like us since I get the feeling that they are after an immediate get rich scheme. When further queried, you would discover that they do not have farms yet but are intending to go into farming after they retired. Others of course have farms and every crop you suggest that has potential is always met with a negative comment. 
 
It was quite frustrating but looking at it differently, these people are our clients, others are potential clients. Every input from them should be taken constructively. Like our organically grown vegetables, our IEC materials were also sold out like hotcakes maybe because they were free. I just hope that they would take time to read it.