“Uneducating” the Farmers

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I saw Mang Tino, with his wife Elvira and their 4 kids, stepping out happily from Jollibee. It's been their routine to drop at this food chain after attending church service every Thursday and Sunday. I can depict from their eyes the contentment they have. Carling, in his middle age, is on his way to his new multi cab. In it are his new purchases of seeds, fertilizers and other farm inputs, in preparation for next cropping season. I also noticed a new bicycle on top of the farm inputs. I'm sure, this is a surprise present to his only son Koykoy. Koykoy is currently enrolled in a private school in their barangay. Aling Nena, with her apo, just came out from Greenwich, with a box of pizza in her hand. She just finished depositing part of her Sales from her harvest. Years ago, Mang Tino, Carling and Aling Nena are just typical farmers. They have a common denominator after every harvest: Short, Failure, Overdraft...3 words that has been common in the vocabulary of our farmers.

The booming voice of Mr. Gomer Tumbali of FAO, our Resource Speaker, brought me back from the future. I am attending the Regional Trainers Training on Farm Business School (FBS) in Serrano Hall, ATI, Diliman, Quezon City. It's the 3rd day. It's the day I am enlightened what FBS really means. And I am excited to “uneducate” our farmers. To make them businessmen, to make their farm their business. This is the training they really needed. They've been taught production technologies for ages. They've been provided access to credits. Farm-to-market roads were constructed and so with irrigation systems. But the farmer remains poor. Only now, through ATI, will the seed of business be planted to them.

How? I will first apply it on my own life as a farmer. After successfully doing it on my own, I will gather the farmers to listen to me. I will teach them to understand the market. To plant only what the consumer wants. If the customer wants organic vegetables, the farmer will produce organic vegetables. Gone are the days where farmer produces corn because his neighbors produce corn. I will teach them to be market-driven.

I will teach them the importance of savings, the techniques on how to save and how to invest. I will teach them the art of costing and pricing of their product. To learn the break even price of their produce. I will let them understand depreciation, fixed costs and variable costs. Terms alien to them? well, at first, it is. Once, it was also alien to me. But as I use my hidden weapon in teaching, eventually, they will understand it. They can cope with it. And that hidden weapon is Love. That love will shine in my eyes. They will feel my sincerity. And because I love the farmers, I will reach as many farmers a I can. And they will listen to me. And they will apply what I will teach them. And when they get richer, they will teach their fellow farmers, return the favor, and they will worship and glorify our God. Lastly, I will not forget to communicate to my God, to guide me, to give me strength to fulfill my obligations to Him.

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ATI Today

Extension services continue to evolve. With the challenges that extension workers and farmers face, the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) continues to explore various strategies to improve its efforts as the extension and training arm of the Department of Agriculture. In over 30 years, the ATI has celebrated various successes and learned from the lessons during hard times. Nonetheless, we are proud to be standing the test of time through the support of our partners and the clientele themselves. This is the ATI Today, more committed to bring you extension services beyond boundaries.