GFRAS Delegates visit the Farmers' Contact Center

GFRAS delegates interview one of the FCC Agents

DILIMAN, Quezon City – Some participants of the Third Annual Meeting of the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS) visited the Farmers’ Contact Center (FCC) of the Philippine e-Extension Program manned and housed at the central office of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) to get a better look and understanding about the program and the center.
The activity took off with a presentation about the Institute – its programs and services – then later on zeroed in on the Department of Agriculture's e-Extension Program for Agriculture and Fisheries with emphasis on the e-Learning and e-Farming components.  After the briefing, the delegates had the chance for an open forum with the ATI's e-Extension Team. The delegates also got to drop in the FCC to personally meet and interview the contact center agents.
The delegates primarily aimed to gather lessons on the role of Rural Advisory Services (RAS) in agricultural innovation systems during the activity.  In particular, they examined the good practices in terms of cooperation/interaction between the ATI as the RAS provider and its partner institutions. The group likewise determined the benefits for the ATI and its partners based on the results from the interaction and the skills needed for the RAS providers that will be helpful in enhancing the program.
Based on the exchanges during the briefing and in the interviews with the FCC agents, the delegates found some interesting aspects which include: the RAS provider must have strong skills in information technology (IT) as well as negotiation skills for partnership with other service providers. The group also believed that the RAS provider must have strong information management, facilitation, and communication skills; and a wider knowledge on the program. They also recommended the involvement of civil society and non-government organizations to complement the partners and in the identification of good agricultural practices that could be applicable in the e-Extension Program. 
The visit was part of the Field Tour activity that highlighted the 3rd GFRAS Annual Meeting held at the Heritage Hotel, Manila last September 26 to 28, 2012.