South Korea’s EPIS Gives Initial Directions for ATI-proposed Smart Farming Youth Program

Wed, 08/31/2022 - 16:20
Korea Agency of Education, Promotion, and Information Service in Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (EPIS)

Korean agricultural cooperation officers from EPIS and KRC, together with some partner experts, give inputs on the development of the ATI-proposed youth internship program on smart farming. (photo by Julrose Dela Torre)

DILIMAN, Quezon City—Officers and experts from the Korea Agency of Education, Promotion, and Information Service in Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (EPIS) and the Korea Rural Community Corporation (KRC) met with officials from the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) for a pre-feasibility study of the “Internship Program for Young Filipino Farmers on Smart Agriculture in Korea” being proposed by the Philippine government. 

This was held to assess the objectives, components, budgetary estimates, and sustainability plan of the proposed internship program, in line with the standards of the South Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

ATI Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Assistant Director Antonieta Arceo first presented the Institute’s profile, mandates, and training programs on youth development. Meanwhile, ATI Information Services Division OIC-Chief Joeven Calasagsag discussed the Institute’s proposal.

The proposed program aims to develop deserving young Filipino farmers to become smart farming leaders and empowered agricultural entrepreneurs and innovators through knowledge-exchange with Korean farmers and experts. It involves a season-long internship program in smart greenhouses and smart open farms in South Korea.

In his message, EPIS-International Agricultural Cooperation Division Manager Yun Ju Hyun thanked the DA and ATI for their invitation to the said meeting and expressed their commitment to assist in the realization of the objectives of the proposed program.

“The training will not just be on production but also on marketing and sales, and processing. This will help the youth farmers become agripreneurs, and have their own farms and sell their own products to make profit. We will help them find their market,” he said. 

The Korean pre-feasibility study team also provided the initial recommendations and directions for the program proposal. One recommendation is the inclusion of young Filipinos who do not have a background on agriculture, such as those who graduated from information technology courses, as eligible applicants for the program. The team explained that this is to encourage more youth to go into farming.

It was also agreed that the five-year program will select 15 youth participants nationwide per year. These interns will undergo one-month local training and immersion in Korea-funded smart greenhouses, or smart open farms, in the country prior to a six-month internship in Korea.

The interns are then expected to apply their knowledge through a year of hands-on practice in local smart greenhouses or open farms after their internship in Korea.

As part of the program, a smart greenhouse will be established in the country that will add to the existing four smart greenhouses funded by the South Korean government. An open farm will also be developed for the youth interns’ application of their knowledge of smart farming technologies.

The site for the greenhouse facility, as well as the priority commodities to be produced in both the smart greenhouse and the open farm, will be identified and recommended by the DA and the ATI. Environmental scanning in the recommended sites will be conducted by the Korean delegation before the year ends. 

A follow-up mission will also be held to finalize the scope and financial analysis of the proposed program.

In her message, DA Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and Regulations Mercedita Sombilla stressed that the program should be able to showcase smart farming as a venture that the youth can really earn money from or build a career out of. Meanwhile, ATI Director Rosana Mula looked forward to further developing the potential of the proposed program with the help of the Korean partners. 

The Korean pre-feasibility study team was also composed of KRC Grants Project Management Officers Ryu Jeong Min and Son Young Im, and external experts Yun Tae Yu and Park Yun Sun.

Meanwhile, the Philippine officials present at the activity were DA-Project Development Service OIC-Director Fernando Flores, ATI CALABARZON OIC-Director Rolando Maningas, and representatives from the DA’s Philippine Integrated Rice Program, High Value Crops Development Program, and National Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture Program.

The pre-feasibility study meeting was held on August 17 and 19, 2022 at the ATI-Rural Development and Education Center. On August 18, the group visited the Korea-funded smart greenhouse project at the DA Rizal Agricultural Research and Experiment Station in Tanay, Rizal, and some ATI Learning Sites for Agriculture in Antipolo, Rizal, namely, Flor’s Garden and Carolina Bamboo Garden.