Farmer Field School Graduation: Outsider Looking In

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A group of FFS graduates

A group of FFS graduates pose after their graduation. (All photos here by the author)

There are graduations and then there are Farmer Field School (FFS) graduations. Obing Macario, in her Balm to the Spirit post, gives us a quick and succinct description of what goes on in a FFS graduation. She tells us how, even after attending so many FFS graduations, each one always evokes that unique feeling of fullfilment only an extensionist can discern.

I cannot, however be in equal footing. I was not part of the training team, never attended any FFS before, only saw graduations in photos. So when I got the chance to witness one firsthand, I was an outsider looking in. It was about a couple of weeks ago in Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya. It was a graduation for the Farm Field School on Onion Production under the auspices of the Galing Saka Program conducted by ATI in Region 2. (It was actually a joint activity together with the launching of the Sta. Fe Farm Business School, that's another blog.)

I was told that out of some 28 who initially registered for the season-long course, only 21 did pass, more than half are women. While all FFS graduations would have the same pro forma program, I sought to look at that which could be unique. So here it is -- how they reworded a classical Pinoy folk rock song.

Sibuyas (sang to the tune of Florante's Handog)

Parang kailan lang, ang pag-tanim ng sibuyas
Ay kay hirap palang gawin.
Dahil sa inyo, natuto kaming magpunla at magtanim.
Nais namin kayong pasalamatan
at nais din kayong handogan.

Tatanda at lilipas din kami, ngunit mga anak namin
Ang mag-mamana ng lahat ng sipag at tiyaga namin.
Dahil minsan tayo'y nagkasama.

Parang kailan lang natutunan namin sa inyo
Ay kay dali palang gawin.
Dahil sa tulong niyo,
Umani kami ng maraming-marami.
Kaya pagod at hirap namin ay napapawi.
(back to chorus)

Here are some of the scenes I captured during that day.

farmer field school graduation
Marebel Seb-at, the "top" graduate because she had the highest net profit, sharing her experience

farmer field school graduation
The graduates valuating the certificate they just received.

farmer field school graduation
The graduates rendering their own version of the song Handog

farmer field school graduation
A behind-the-scene photo showing the graduates preparing the lunch for the guests before the actual ceremony. Where else but in an FFS graduation will you see the graduates themselves busy in the kitchen.

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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.