Magsasaka-Siyentista as Catalyst Towards Sustainable Agriculture

Magsasaka Siyentista participants listening to the speaker (photo by Clemente A. Gabion)

SUBIC, Zambales - "The more you share knowledge, the more you'll gain back in different ways."

This was addressed by Director Asterio P. Saliot of Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) to the delegates of the first island-wide congress for the farmer-scientists in the country.

The farmer-scientists, locally known as the Magsasaka Siyentista (MS), are part of the extension modality Techno Gabay Program (TGP) initiated by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development  (PCAARRD), which is now being institutionalized as a regular extension program of the Department of Agriculture through ATI.

Looking back, the brainchild of the MS, Dr. Arturo Argañosa of PCAARRD, recounted how it came to be - its metamorphosis from the conception in PCAARRD to the National Techno Gabay Summit held last July 8 to 9, 2008. This was followed by the turnover of TGP including the MS component from PCAARRD to ATI in 2012.
 
Accepting the challenge, Saliot worked for the organization of Magsasaka Siyentista as stated by Dr. Argañosa. He said Saliot was there when the MS was born, when the MS was tired and dying and when the MS was transferred to ATI. From conception to resurrection of MS, Saliot was present. Hence, he was applauded especially when introduced as the keynote speaker of the congress and for rekindling the MS.
 
From PCAARRD to ATI, from technology verification to commercialization. the farmer-scientists have come a long way in developing science and technology-based farming know-hows. Together with continuous learning and research, it is now high time for the MS to disseminate and teach the knowledge and experiences they have gained. With this, Saliot addressed the congress delegates “Do not die with your technology,”

Saliot noted "We will help you to train but in exchange, you must share what you have learned to the farmers. You must develop your farms as it is one way of disseminating knowledge and it is through your demo farms that other farmers will see that there is indeed money in agriculture.”

This year's farmers' congress was held through the efforts of the Samahan ng Magsasaka Siyentista ng Techno Gabay Program of San Ramon, Dinalupihan, Bataan together with the ATI, with the theme “MS: A Catalyst Towards Sustainable Agricultural Development through Science and Technology-Based Farming.” About 17 farmer-scientists from the different provinces acted as resource persons imparting each of their scientific-based farm technologies to the participants.
 
Almost 200 participants comprised of farmer-scientists, municipal agriculturists, agricultural technicians, focal persons and coordinators of the rural-based organizations and TGP from the different regions of Luzon island took part in the three-day congress held last June 17 to 19, 2014.

As emphasized by the ATI Director during his speech at the Congress, the Magsasaka Siyentista with their science and technology-based farming will serve as the baton who will lead the rural-based organizations. They will be the catalyst steering towards achieving development and sustainability in the agriculture sector.