575 Ilocos farmers learn agri technology

Some 575 farmers from 16 municipalities in Ilocos Norte are now equipped with the latest production technologies on high-value commercial crops and livestock, which they can apply in their farms.


The farmers learned these through the school-on-the-air (SOA) program jointly initiated by MMSU, the Ilocos Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Research and Development Consortium (ILAARRDEC), the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte, and the Philippine Broadcasting Service (PBS).


Aired over government-owned DWFB Radyo Pilipinas in Laoag City and DWCI Radyo Piddig, the SOA ran for six months , or from May to Novemeber this year, and were hosted by a farmcaster from the MMSU’s Extension Directorate.


“I am so happy that despite of my limited resources and time to attend seminars, I learned a lot on various farm production technologies and livestock production,” said Florencio Madalipay of Batac City, this year’s top achiever of the program, a feat equivalent to first honors.


“I feel different now from other farmers who are still practicing traditional methods of planting crops and raising livestock,” beamed Ernard John Agustin of San Nicolas town who is the number two top achiever of the SOA curriculum.


In a grand graduation ceremony held at MMSU Teatro Ilocandia on Wednesday, Dr. Epifania O, Agustin, MMSU’s vice president for research, extension and agribusiness, said the university hopes to see the graduates increase their production output next year because the SOA that was conducted “was an intensive extension service that aimed to improve existing crops and livestock-based farming systems through the adoption of appropriate technologies and innovations.


For six months, farmers listened to the aired discussions on livestock raising management and the improved crop production practices through experts from MMSU, PhilRice, and the Department of Agriculture (DA), who gave them practical tips on how to produce better outputs.


In partnership with PCAARRD’s project on Sustaining Crop Productivity on Climate Vulnerable Areas Through Science and Technology Community-based Farm (STCBF) on Climate Resilient Technologies, the SOA served as channel of improved farming practices through the use of Bio-N and carageenan plant growth promoter.


“We focused on crops and livestock production,” Dr. Agustin said, adding that as one of the most vulnerable provinces in the country, Ilocos Norte has suffered adverse impacts of global warming such as prolonged drought, abnormal precipitation rates, floods, environmental degradation, and increased temperatures.


Experts have predicted that global demand for crops and livestock products are expected to increase due to the improvement in the worldwide standard of living.


However, climate change is a threat to crops and livestock because of its impact on agricultural production and biodiversity.


“That’s why we need to inform the farmers on these issues and, at the same time, teach them to cope up with these current trends and increase their production output,” Dr. Agustin said.


Meanwhile, Celestina C. Paz, Station Manager of DWFB Radyo-Pilipinas, said the two state-run radio stations are honored to become partners of MMSU, saying that the radio has remained a very efficient and effective medium in the delivery of vital research information to farmers, and that the techniques employed in the SOA were basically instructional although the teaching-learning process is not undertaken in classrooms.


Aside from Madalipay and Agustin, the other achievers from the 16 participating local government units who were awarded during the graduation program were: Jeofrey Agustin (Solsona), Richard Garcia (Badoc), Edilberto Ramos (Bacarra), Margie Sagucio (Pasuquin), Jose Caditan (Paoay), Lorna Malvar (Sarrat), Zeny Manuel (Banna), Edison Yamongan (Currimao), Noriel Magayano (Vintar), Ceferino Ligot (Marcos), and Feliciano Rondal (Nueva Era). -- by Reynaldo E. Andres