The Department of Agriculture- Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI) and the Asian Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative in Rural Development Administration (AFACI-RDA), Republic of Korea, have collaborated to improve the agricultural extension system of the country through the Improvement of Rural Agricultural Technology Extension System in Asia (RATES) project.
The RATES will use information and communication technologies (ICT) tools and solutions to address the need for digital inclusion among the marginalized sector in Philippine agriculture. These include the farmers, fishers, and their families.
ICTs are today’s essential tools in boosting the collection, processing, and transmission of quality data and information to more farmers. However, its application in the country’s agriculture extension and advisory services is not maximized due to different conditions at the local level.
“To meet the demands of the growing agricultural markets locally and abroad, the agriculture and fishery sector must be transformed into a technology-based, advanced, and competitive industries,” said ATI Assistan Director Antonieta J. Arceo, during her presentation at the Kickoff Workshop on the Development of RATES in Jeonju, Republic of Korea, April 23-27.
According to her, the transformation is possible through the provision of production and marketing support services, human resource development, research, development, and extension, rural and non-farm employment, and trade and fiscal incentives.
The RATES project will promote data-driven decision making using digital agricultural tools and solutions on the local rural advisory services system of the target local government units and Learning Site for Agriculture (LSA) cooperators during its three-year execution. The agricultural extension workers (AEWs) and LSA cooperators in the chosen municipalities in Region 1 are its direct beneficiaries.
The ATI has been utilizing the potentials of ICT through its capacity development, knowledge bank, and other efforts as the catalyst of the Philippine agricultural and fishery extension system. The Institute has training programs for various sectors, internship programs, the Digital Farmers’ Program, school-on-the-air, the e-Learning Program, among others. It also offers advisory services through the Farmers’ Contact Center, Farmers’ Information and Technology Services Centers, Rice Crop Manager, radio plugs and programs, and the provision of agri-fishery information, education, and communication materials in various formats. The RATES project will help professionalize the delivery of these services and empower AEWs and LSA cooperators to use digital tools and technologies, thereby indirectly benefiting farmers, fishers, and youth in the targeted communities.
According to Arceo, the Philippine agricultural extension system may move forward in a number of ways, including partnerships and digital transformation toward informed decision-making.
“Partnership and collaboration plus ladderized co-learning approach will make our farmers future-ready,” Arceo said.
The RATES project will be led by ATI in cooperation with the Philippine Extension Advisory Services Network, and will be implemented until 2025.