DILIMAN, Quezon City—As the nation celebrates the National Women’s Month in honor of every Juana, a rice farmer and trainer in Mangatarem, Pangasinan underscores the important role of women as partners in agriculture.
In an interview with the Agricultural Training Institute’s (ATI) “Agri Asenso” on DZRH, Our Farm Republic (OFR) founder and head Lea Astrude Santiago spoke of the qualities of women in terms of being detail-oriented and having good negotiating skills which are important aspects of financial literacy and marketing, respectively.
“Know your worth—that is my message for women farmers. All of us are important in nurturing the family and in attaining the aspirations of society and the nation. Continue being a source of light to your family and to the country,” she said.
As a Farm School owner, Santiago also shared the rice farming technologies that they teach during the training activities they conduct such as the Farmer Field School. These include mechanization and the agro-ecosystem analysis (AESA).
Santiago—whose mission is to eradicate “gawat” or scarcity in Ilocano—also shared the advantages of processing one’s own palay, especially when the buying price is low.
“When the price is good, we sell palay either as wet or dry. But having palay milled before selling it as rice is highly advantageous. This way, you can choose when to sell your product and you can even set its price,” she said.
Aside from the celebration of Juanas, March also marks the anniversary of the Rice Tariffication Law. The law, which was enacted in 2019, created the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) which has four components: seeds, mechanization, training and advisory services, and credit.
In her interview, Santiago encouraged farmers to form associations and cooperatives to avail themselves of the services under RCEF. She also highlighted the significance of saving money and investing in drying facility and storage area to become more competitive.
Aside from being a Farm School of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, OFR is also an ATI Learning Site for Agriculture and a Farm Tourism Site of the Department of Tourism.
Hosted by veteran broadcaster Henry Uri and ATI Information Services Division chief Antonieta Arceo, “Agri Asenso” is a weekly program on DZRH AM and DZRH News Television that features different agri-fishery technologies. All episodes are also livestreamed via the ATI and DZRH Facebook pages, and the DZRH YouTube Channel.