Villar says free training courses, growing number of farm schools, help improve farmer competitiveness

Sen. Cynthia Villar said the growing number of learning sites offering free agriculture-related courses should be credited for considerable breakthroughs in the goal to make Filipino farmers competitive.

During the celebration of the 31st anniversary of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Villar, chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, noted that more farm schools are now in partnership with ATI in providing free agricultural training to farmers all over the country.

"I really believe that farm schools and learning centers will continue to help create more possibilities as well as opportunities in agriculture for Filipinos, particularly in farming communities," Villar said.

"Continuing education and training is the key as we all know. Particularly, since based on studies, among the barriers that keep Filipino farmers from being more successful are lack of technical expertise, lack of mechanization and financial literacy, inadequate access to cheap credit, among others," she added.

A revised edition of the Directory of Farm Schools, Tourist Farms and Learning Sites in the Philippines, which was published through the initiative of Villar, shows that the number of these sites have tripled from the previous 380 to almost 900 sites.

"I have been actively encouraging farm owners to convert their farms into farm schools or at least put up a learning site or training center. At marami na nga ang tumugon sa aking panawagan," Villar said.

The lady senator also pointed out that ATI as lead implementor of extension services, needs to have stronger partnership with these farm learning sites in order to reach more farmers and communities and hasten the growth and development of the agriculture sector.

The establishment of farm schools in every town in the Philippines is encouraged under Republic Act (RA) 10816 o ang "Farm Tourism Development Law," which Villar authored.

Villar also commended ATI, a recipient of the ISO 9001:2015 certification, for being one of the partners of Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance ( Villar SIPAG) in providing free training workshops in its farm schools in Bacoor, Cavite, and in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.

"ATI has truly been a dependable partner in our collective goal to help uplift the lives of the Filipino farmers and fisherfolks by making them more competent and capable. Increasing food production and farm productivity alone cannot move them permanently out of poverty. We must also teach small farmers capacity-building strategies, introduce them to new technologies and approaches," Villar said.

Villar also noted that the Farm Business School modules of ATI and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, is among the popular courses offered by the farm schools, which teaches farmers to operate their family farms as a business enterprise to increase income potential.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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