Since its launching in 2019, more and more graduates of the Digital Farmers Program (DFP) have been equipped with the knowledge of digital tools and platforms to boost their online presence as modern day farmers, as well as to market their farm products through social media.
Taking the initiative to bridge the digital divide and promote complementation between the highly IT-literate youth and today’s aging farmers, the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) under the Department of Agriculture (DA), in close coordination and partnership with Smart Communications Incorporated along with Probe Media Foundation, Inc. mounted the Digital Farmers Program (DFP).
DFP intends to partner the next generation farmers, who are internet savvy and ICT literate, with their farmer parents in a mentoring and coaching session. The farmers’ partnership with the youth aims to make them assist the farmers to use digital tools and technologies in their rural and farming activities and create connections with other farmer participants. Consequently, the DFP aims to produce various agriculture-related content which will be developed by these farmer-youth pairs and will be uploaded and shared in different ICT platforms.
“I am glad to know that some of our participants here are way younger than what I expected. This will encourage more youth in the region to engage in farming, since DFP allows us to see the full range of farming activities needed to create a product or service along the value-chain, aside from the physical aspect of farming. Capacitating our farmers by providing them access to information is a step further in contributing to the modernization and industrialization of our agri sector”, Center Director Maria Lydia A. Echavez said during her inspirational message to the participants via Google Meet.
The program also aims to further advance the local agricultural industry's adoption of more innovative forms of technology in farming which would complement the next generation of farmers and the more experienced ones. The DFP also aims to keep its participants abreast with the changing times and cope with the alarming decline of farmers in the country.
“Through DFP, we aim to make our farmers make the most out of the latest technology to improve livelihood using social media and other online tools”, said Judee Caroline Chavez, Corporate Communication Manager of SMART Communications Incorporated in her short message.
DFP consists of a ladderized approach in helping farmers make better farming decisions, access more market opportunities, and increase their livelihood and income. The program contents are broken down into three levels namely DFP 101 (Beginner), DFP 102 (Intermediate), and DFP 103 (Advance).
DFP 101 aims to encourage farmers to utilize smartphones, the internet, basic agriculture applications, and social media marketing in boosting their farming productivity. Furthermore, it informs farmers how to describe the use digital tools and technologies to help them in their daily lives and farming practices, identify the parts, function, and uses of the smartphone, access the internet and perform tasks and functions on using the internet.
Meanwhile, DFP 102 is focused on advance social media applications and smartphone operation, introduction of agri-related applications, e-commerce apps, mobile money platforms and easy-to-use online editing tools to help farmers create engaging social media contents for their online business pages. While DFP 103 engages participants in Advance Agripreneurship and Financial literacy through Smart farming
“This training is very rich in information, specifically on how to appreciate social media platforms in agribusiness and inspire farmers to produce quality farm products and sell online. “, said Charlotte Ytang. Ms. Ytang is one of the graduates who completed the Digital Farmer Program (DFP) 102 course conducted via online platform from September 13-16, 2021. The second and third batch of the training is conducted on October 4-5 and October 6-7, 2021 respectively.
After proper online discussions, workshops and return-demos were conducted, participants were able to create their own Facebook business pages, and their own social media marketing plan which they submitted via FB messenger group chat created for the batch. In an online poster making contest, Ms. Kinnah Bermoy and Mr. Fernando Bermoy of the Fergber Integrated Organic Farm emerged as the winner.
Majority of the participants were graduates of the first batch of DFP 101 course in 2019 and in 2020 while four were Non-DFP 101 graduate. Participants were from the different parts of Lanao del Norte, Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon. Despite the limits and some setbacks of distance learning, participants were appreciative of the said online activity.
“I learned a lot and enjoyed the different topics like using Facebook to sell products in the farm and also creating posters and visuals using Canva”, said Elijah Maganding, a sixth grader participant of the DFP 102 during the sharing of impressions.
Being the second regional training center to launch and mount a campaign drive of the DFP in October 2019, the DFP in ATI-Region 10 is implemented by the Information Services Section (ISS) led by OIC-Section Chief Maria Eloisa A. Akut, Information Officer-II Honeylou C. Bastasa, Agriculturist-I Mary Lie P. Monteroyo, IT expert Elton Daryl A. Lignes, Info Agents Angelli C. Doña and Cassandra Camille Rosos-Sabasaje, with Media Production Specialist-II Vic Thor Palarca.
The Digital Farmers Program (DFP) is a Gold Anvil Awardee and a winner during the 18th Philippine Quill Awards in 2020 and 2021 respectively. (with reports from Honeylou C. Bastasa, Information Officer-II)
In their respective giving of impressions online, Maricon Ompoc stressed the applicability of the topics in marketing and selling her farm goods, while Ms. Trisha Maputi emphasized that DFP is a good complementation with the traditional marketing strategies. Grade six Elijah Maganding enjoyed making visuals using Canva, a graphic design platform.
Former ISD Chief turned ATI-Central Office Assistant Director Antonieta J. Arceo in her interaction with the participants along with Ms. Ruth Reyes, Public Affairs Junior Manager of SMART Communications Inc. during a DFP 101 in October 2019.