SOA Launching in Tanudan, Kalinga last April 16, 2018 by the DA-CAR 

SOA Launching in Paracelis, Mountain Province last April 17

Agriculture in the Cordillera is facing continuously new and important problems and challenges.

On corn farming, for instance, local farmers are now facing declining fertility and therefore results to more expensive production of the commodity in their production in sloping areas, on top of erosion, gully formation, pest and diseases, and climate change among others.

To address these problems and challenges, the Department of Agriculture-Cordillera Administrative Region (DA-CAR) through its Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Information Section (RAFIS) launched the second batch of its enhanced School-on-Air (SoA) program on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)-Corn for the major corn municipalities of Tanudan, Kalinga and Paracelis, Mountain Province last April 16-17 in the respective communities.

The launching cum orientation specifically served as a venue for both the program implementers and beneficiaries to fully understand the SoA program and its course, to level off with their roles and responsibilities, and to affirm their commitments for its successful implementation among others. The SoA on GAP-Corn particularly targets the municipalities of Tanudan and Paracelis who are among the major corn producers in the region. This is set for 5-6 months with Kalinga’s provincial corn coordinator, Ms. Remy Balliyao, as SoA broadcaster in partnership with DZRK-Radyo ng Bayan-Pilipinas, formerly Radyo ng Bayan-Tabuk.

RAFIS Chief Robert L. Domoguen reiterated that the SoA course module titled “Eco-Friendly Production though GAP and Sustainable Corn Production in Sloping Areas (SCoPSA): a 3-in-1 course in Corn Farming,” aims to provide necessary information and skills to help the farmers, specifically the farmer-enrollees, from the extensive and still increasing capital required for corn production on devastated lands and to save the local corn industry from deteriorating. The module is comprised of three major topics namely GAP on corn, SCoPSA, and rice-corn blend which is among the new strategies being promoting by the Department towards rice sufficiency.

Corn is the second most important crop in the Philippines and has become an emerging cash crop in the country for over the last 10 years due to the introduction of new technologies and high demand of corn, particularly yellow corn. However, with the limited or poor good farming practices combined with high rainfall intensities, unsustainable farming practices and other human-induced factors, negative impacts to land and soils become very apparent in the recent years. Hence, the development of the said course module.

In his message, DA-CAR Regional Executive Director Narciso A. Edillo congratulated the farmer-enrollees for appreciating and engaging themselves in promising endeavors of the Department such as the SoA. He encouraged them to practice and share the learnings and skills that they will gain from the said course which will, hopefully, aid in restoring their deteriorating corn farms and to make agriculture sustainable in general. He added that the farmers should also encourage and teach the younger generations to embrace farming and produce quality products. “Who will feed the next generations if we will not teach them?,” emphasized Dir. Edillo.

DA’s SoA patterned from CHARMP2’s program design

The SoA course module and its strategic implementation and monitoring design were mainly adopted from the Second Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Project’s (CHARMP2) experience, one of the DA’s foreign-assisted projects, in implementing SoA in the region’s rural communities. This is also in line with the Project’s goal of upscaling its best practices and innovations in the regular programs of the government that will hopefully provide a window for a better approach and/or strategy in providing relevant services and assistance among its target beneficiaries.

The Project’s set of structured implementation and monitoring design where the DA’s recently launched SoA program was patterned has evolved overtime from its successful implementation of seven courses in four years (2013-2016) in the various provinces of the region. The design basically outlines the basic questions on who, what, when, and how the SoA will be done from module development, to enrolment, and to graduation of the farmer-enrollees while highlighting the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder in the realization of the program’s objective.

One of the innovations adopted in this program is the involvement of farmer leaders per SoA-covered barangay. These farmer leaders who are also enrollees, have committed themselves to assist the municipal SoA coordinator particularly in monitoring the enrollees and collecting their answer booklets for checking and distribution after. Mr. Rogelio Ngafitna, municipal SoA coordinator of Paracelis, said that the identification of farmer enrollees is a big help to them in implementing the SoA given the significant distance of barangays and the limited number of agricultural technicians to personally monitor and visit the enrollees regularly.

To date, the SoA has 258 initial enrollees. The SoA’s broadcast proper is expected to officially start on the first week of May 2018 with airtime of 6:00-6:30 in the morning every Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.//Janice B. Agrifino