The training that started late last month aims to help farmers improve and increase their income and productivity through modern technology, like the use of plastic green house, mulch, and organic fertilizers and pesticides, according to DA regional executive director Jose Dayao.
It consists of lectures and hands-on training of the participants using the Farmers Field School approach, which is a group-based learning process that incorporates concepts and methods from agro-ecology, experiential education and community development.
Participants would meet for one day each week for 10 sessions, or over a two-month period.
HARBEST was tasked to provide the seeds and other inputs including technology. The DA was tasked to provide technical assistance, venue and 5,000-square-meter demo-site at the Bicol Experiment Station (BEST) here that also serve as field-school for the participants.
SM Foundation will serve as the marketing arm for the farmer graduates who would venture into commercial vegetable production after the training. The foundation’s supermarket chain will also serve as the outlet for the farmers’ vegetable products.
“We expect this training program to provide tools for our vegetable farmers in Bicol for them to be able to produce quality vegetables for local consumption as [alternative] for products brought in from other areas and which are expensive,” Dayao said.
According to Barcelona, a recent survey by HARBEST revealed that most of the vegetables available in Bicol markets are brought either from Northern Luzon or Mindanao.
Because traders have to defray the cost of transportation, vegetables in the local market are very expensive, Barcelona said.
Barcelona said HARBEST provides tested agricultural technologies for short-term, high-value commercial crop production and helps farmers develop their markets.
“We conduct seminars, one-on-one consultations and field visits. Our topic includes specific crop-production technology, marketing advise, EM Bokashi’s organic farming, greenhouse farming, urban farming, home gardening and choosing your agribusiness partner from KNOWN-YOU seed varieties developed in Taiwan,” he said.
It also promotes vegetable self-sufficiency through LGUs and nongovernment organizations in several communities nationwide in the hope that through localized production of high-quality vegetables, Filipinos will be able to afford them and consume more, Barcelona said.
“HARBEST empowers farmers by imparting technology for free in several areas all over the country under its HARBEST-assisted communities and beneficiaries. Hundreds have already benefited from this and the life of farmers have been uplifted,” he said.
Through its on-the-job training for graduating agriculture students and its Gulayan sa Escuelahan projects, HARBEST contributes to the growing awareness of farmers on livelihood opportunities in their vocation.
The company also actively promotes the use of vacant lots in urban centers for high-value, short-term crop production, Barcelona added.
Written by Danny O. Calleja
Source: Business Mirror