FITS Center in Batad, Iloilo Gets Overwhelming Support from SUC, LGU

Colorful Poinsettia made of corn husk, a corn-based handicraft by FITS Center Batad, Iloilo

ILOILO, Philippines-- The collaboration of the Research and Extension Office of Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College (NIPSC) and the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Batad, Iloilo is the key for keeping the Farmers' Information Technology Services (FITS) Center up and running in the municipality.

This is the highlight of the recent FITS monitoring in Iloilo initiated by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) as part of the nationwide rapid assessment and geo-tagging of the FITS Centers.

Though with the issuance of Executive Order no. 801, series of 2009 encouraging the LGUs to adopt the Techno Gabay Program and the FITS Centers, the one-stop shop facility, which is supposedly operated by the LGU in Batad, is being maintained in a state college.

According to Eva S. Montero, NIPSC Director for Research and Development and concurrent FITS Center Manager, the Local Government of Batad declined to manage the operation of the FITS Center due to lack of technical expertise. Cognizant to its function and services, research and extension capabilities, NIPSC offered its capabilities and is now continuously operating the FITS Center in Batad. Given this arrangement, the LGU provided funding assistance and manpower to assist in the operation as a sign of their support and to ensure the delivery of extension services to farmers in their municipality.

Batad, Iloilo is also known as corn-producing municipality and thus, corn is the focus commodity of their FITS Center. Aside from kernel, the Center also processes corn husk into different handicrafts such as decorative flowers, lei, baskets, among others being sold at a reasonable price. The farmer associations and students of NIPSC benefited from the FITS Center through various information, education communication materials and technology demonstration such as heirloom corn production, goat production, among others.

Apart from their on-going projects, the FITS Center also plans to put up a vermicomposting facility, aiming to produce vermicast to be used and sold as organic fertilizer. The project at the same time will address the waste management of the municipality by collecting household wastes to be used as substrate for composting.

The greatest challenge faced so far by the FITS Center was when it was ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda, which was the strongest typhoon that hit the Philippines in 2013. The FITS Center and the rest of the facilities of NIPSC Batad Campus were then damaged. With her initiative, Montero asked for assistance from the Provincial Government of Iloilo for the rehabilitation of the Research and Development Office where the FITS Center was located. As of this date, Montero is set to meet the Governor for possible additional budget for the completion of the rehabilitation project.

The FITS monitoring in Batad, Iloilo was conducted last October 2, 2015.