BAUANG, La Union—The Department of Agriculture (DA), through the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) and the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) continues the implementation of the National Training of Trainers on Basic Leadership and Technical Skills for Small Water Irrigation System Association (SWISA) Officers and Agricultural Extension Workers (AEWs).
The second batch of the five-day training was conducted last May 23-27, 2022. It aimed to capacitate the 25 SWISA Officers and AEWs from Luzon A Cluster (Regions I, IV-A, IV-B, and V) to become trainers and facilitators on institutional development and sustainable operation, and maintenance of the DA’s Small Scale Irrigation Projects (SSIP) within their respective localities. The participants were also trained on techniques to instill values formation, social inclusion, and gender and development within an organization.
This initiative is part of the support strategy of ATI in the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling, which devolves certain functions of the National Government Agencies (NGAs) to the Local Government Units (LGUs). Therefore, the participants will become trainers who will serve as channels of knowledge and skill for the benefit of the farmer-members and individual farmers that will soon be organized or be part of an association.
ATI Director Rosana P. Mula, PhD. recognized the importance of prolonging this training and vouched to continuously capacitate more people to push forward responsive and efficient handling of small-scale irrigation systems. “This initiative will open more opportunities for harmonious and effective operations that will enable the sustainable management of irrigation projects in the future. Also, this will definitely serve as a great contribution for the remote and underserved agricultural areas, and will eventually improve the country’s agricultural growth and development,” she added.
DA Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) I Regional Executive Director Nestor Domenden, DA-BSWM Director Pablo Montalla, and ATI-Regional Training Center I Director Roger Evangelista also graced the activity.
DA-RFO I Director Domenden, for his part, continuously advocates for stronger partnerships with the Local Government Units and farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) to further harmonize and complement the agri-fishery services of the NGAs and other institutions.
“The projects of DA, especially on SSIPs, require the collaborative effort of the stakeholders within the service area, to maximize its potential impact in the yield and income of the beneficiaries. This is why we encourage the local institutions and farmer representatives to partake in crafting institutional development plan so that the challenges and opportunities concerning the projects shall be addressed thoroughly.”
Meanwhile, BSWM Director Montalla stressed the pivotal role of the AEWs and farmer-leaders in the agriculture sector of the country. “The privilege of having the opportunity to attend this kind of training corresponds with duties and responsibilities to keep the farming community well-informed regularly on the innovative strategies that will improve their clustered farm operations,” Director Montalla said. “This, in turn will result in achieving economies of scale and will contribute in achieving efficient and sustainable food production in the rural areas,” he added.
On the last day of the training, the group went to the SSIPs of the DA in San Juan, La Union. The projects are Duplas Diversion Dam, and Pagdildilan Small Water Irrigation Project which benefits more than 200 hectare-land of the Association of United Farmers and Irrigators of Duplas, Inc., and Pacpacac-Pagdildilan Irrigator’s Association Inc., respectively.
Director Mula concluded that the role of the AEWs goes beyond teaching farming techniques; “You should be able to adopt on the situation in your area and provide innovative knowledge, sharing, and learning strategies to instill positive change not just in the skills of the farmers, but also in the attitude.”