Sunday, 11 January 2009

Philippine farmer training program to continue

BusinessWorld Online

Over 14,000 field schools have been established nationwide to teach farmers up-to-date farming methods and technologies, the Agriculture department said on Friday.

In a statement, it said that so far, some 400,000 farmers had been trained to "select, adapt and apply knowledge-intensive technologies and use resources available to them more efficiently."

Training focused on organic farming to offset the high cost of chemical fertilizers and encourage environment-friendly methods..

Agriculture department technical adviser Jesus N. Binamira claimed participants had cut their use of chemical fertilizers by half and increased the application of organic-based farming techniques by over three times.

The department last year noted a drop in chemical fertilizer use following significant oil price volatility. It expects to have missed the 2008 palay production target of 17.3 million metric tons by 2.36% in part to high fertilizer prices.

Continuation of the farm training, the department said, will "keep farmers in specialized agricultural fields to plant their own crops using new technologies, so they can gather their own data, do experiments, make their own decisions, and create their own working networks."

The Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) has already trained 1,800 agricultural technicians that will teach farmers, ATI planning division chief Renato B. dela Cruz said.

The agricultural technicians will, in turn, train 80,997 participants in the field schools until March this year, he added.

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