Backlogs and Blogs

A blog gives you plenty of opportunity to express deep-seated beliefs and trivial pursuits. It’s quite liberating. So given the chance to write a blog in between activities trying to get out of a work backlog, I grab the chance to write.

(That is, when the “creative” energy is up to it. Doing the more logical, analytical and objective part of media production work – editing reports and 120-page long proceedings, writing and revising a script, sorting out administrative arrangements for various KM projects – left-brain thinking predominates. Right-brain thinking tended to slither into the background, thus the more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective job of wring blogs becomes something of an effort.)

Backlogs and writer’s block notwithstanding, something has got to be said about two guests from the United States who took time to encourage e-Extension managers and coordinators in the Philippines to pursue this “high calling.”

Sweet, fun, and smart Dr. Khin Mar Cho of Cornell University Cooperative Extension (CUCE) as well as gracious, good-humoured and inspiring Dr. Gregory Crosby of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture featured in a two-part knowledge sharing forum held this year in Manila on September 10th and March 30th respectively.

Dr. Khin undoubtedly captured the mind and heart of her audience during a knowledge sharing forum on e-Extension held at home-by-the-by Bayview Park Hotel in September.

Director Saliot introduced her as beautiful, young, energetic, and a good friend. Cheerfully, Dr. Khin related that she had been asked if she was a Filipina – graciously giving back the compliment to Filipinas. Frank and honest, Dr. Khin modestly explained that she had been working with CUCE and teaching for quite a while, so she is not fresh-out-of-school as she might look. But yes, she happily admitted, she is energized coming to the Philippines! She is part of the team, Dr. Khin happily professed after her talk as she received the Philippine e-Extension jacket from Director Saliot and Ms. Niet Arceo.

Dr. Khin shared that in addition to administering MarketMaker, CUCE also conducts extension activities such as “education within two hours” – an 8-week nutrition program focusing on nutrition education and women’s participation.

CUCE is working with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to assess the requirements for electronically linking farmers with markets in Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Bangladesh. Concept mapping workshops consisted of face-to-face sessions and computer software to brainstorm, sort, and rate their suggestions to better address food marketing issues in the community. A Brainstorming Prompt helps generate ideas from the participants: “I would be much better able to market and distribute my products if…”

Meanwhile, Dr. Gregory Crosby stirred the interest of his listeners. Kudos and big thanks to Dr. Crosby for taking time to discuss the US eXtension during the first part of the knowledge sharing forum held in March at ATI-Central Office. His perceptive insights and encouragements are footholds we should firmly hold on to in our climb up the e-Extension peak.

It was Dr. Crosby who described e-Extension as “a very high calling – something we need to do more of in the country.”

His words are worth remembering as we do our work: “If you don’t know exactly what these people need, begin with quantitative and qualitative assessment of what producers really want… what kind of help they want, and how they want it delivered… You need to know how they are getting information, and deliver information according to your audience’s needs.”

Congratulations and thank you ATI-CO for the rare privilege of meeting and listening to Dr. Crosby and Dr. Khin. Despite having so much more to do in our work, we are persist, we are not disheartened.

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.