With her strong desire to serve her co-farmers, Lyda E. Estacio, 51, a resident of Norala, South Cotabato accepted the challenge to be a Local Farmer Technician (LFT) in her barangay. She started serving as LFT in 2012 and has four major functions. These include the conduct of Farmers’ Field School (FFS), serve as Bantay Peste Brigade in the community, conduct of Usapang Palay with other LFTs in the entire municipality, and to further enhance her knowledge, she is required to attend trainings conducted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) particularly the Agricultural Training Institute Regional Training Center XII (ATI-RTC XII).
The trainings she attended capacitated her as one of DA’s frontliners in technology delivery. The FFS she conducted in Poblacion 7, Norala with 30 participants highlighted her accomplishments as an LFT. In her classes, she re-echo the technologies she acquired during trainings purposely to give her farmer-participants better chance of getting higher yields. Some of the best farming strategies that were adopted by the farmers are the use of certified seeds as one of the basic foundations in having good yield, the use of Trichogramma to fight rice stemborers, Metarhizium to control black bugs, and vermicompost to reduce the use of synthetic fertilizer. As an officer of their Irrigators Association (IA), Lyda also convinced the farmers to practice synchronous planting following the IA’s planting calendar.
Albert Archede, one of the FFS-participants said that the knowledge they learned helped them increase their yield to almost 100%. “We barely get 45 sacks per hectare before but because of the technologies introduced in the FFS led by Ms. Lyda, we harvested 98 sacks per hectare,” he stated. Moreover, through the use of Trichogramma and Metarhizium, they reduced the use of chemicals for spraying. “Because of Trichogramma and Metarhizium we’re healthier now because we do not spray many chemicals any longer,” Archede added.
Improved ISF collection
Since many farmers in the community have at least 20% increase in yield, Mr. Herman Adremesin, the IA President in the area gladly announced that the Irrigation Service Fee (ISF) collection increased by 77% and they achieved 11% increase in ISF incentive. They were really thankful of the technologies that they have adopted because it does not just increase their yield, it also taught people not to neglect their social responsibilities like paying their ISF.
Always on the go LFT, single mother and a farmer
Riding her single motorcycle, Lyda monitors each FFS farmer-participant in their farms and personally attends to their queries. She usually leaves home at dawn and went back to check on her only daughter Therese at lunch time. This has been her daily routine but she finds fulfillment in every inch of tiredness. When asked if it wasn’t hard for her to encourage farmers to attend her classes and adopt the technologies that she’s sharing, Lyda proudly answered “It was difficult to convince them at first but as we get along, they showed interest in learning new things and that made me more inspired to share what I know”. Lyda also manages her family’s 15 hectare rice field where she also put into practice the technologies she advocates. That is to encourage more farmers who doubts her. This signifies her love for rice farming.
She simultaneously manages her own farm, raises her daughter alone and serves other farmers with sincere gratitude. It is also amazing that she remains humble about how much she has changed other people’s lives. How does she feel when people express gratitude in the services she’s extending? “Very inspiring, it motivates me to give them more of what I know because I always believe that God sends me here for a purpose and that is to empower others out of my utmost capability.” she said.
Story of Fearless Farmers
This story is not only about Lyda’s strength and ability that somehow exceeds to what is usually expected from a woman, an LFT who contributed so much in uplifting rice farming in Norala, South Cotabato. This is also a true success story of farmers who became successful after adopting newly introduced technologies.