JAPAN -- The Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI) and Japan Agricultural Exchange Council (JAEC) monitored and evaluated the progress of the trainees of the Young Filipino Farm Leaders Training Program in Japan (YFFLTPJ).
The YFFLTPJ monitoring and evaluation (M&E) activity, conducted from May 20 to 22, 2022 served as a mechanism to ensure that the implementation methodologies of the program were met and to anticipate the need for bringing better and more impactful implementation provisions moving forward.
DA-ATI Director Dr. Rosana P. Mula and staff, together with Agricultural Attache Jose C. Laquian from the Philippine Embassy in Japan representing the Philippines and the delegates from JAEC represented by Executive Director Ryoji Sakamoto and Operations Division Director Toshihiro Shimizu comprised the M&E team.
As the oldest youth exchange program which started in 1986, Dr. Mula said, “We are ensuring that the investments of the Philippines and Japanese government are worthwhile and that both parties are in a win-win situation.”
“I hope this (M&E activity) will bring new arrangements including institutional and functional updates to make our partnership more vibrant,” Dr. Mula added as the memorandum of mutual understanding with JAEC may renew in April 2023.
The team visited the different farms in Chiba Prefecture, Tochigi Prefecture and Ibaraki Prefecture, where three Filipino youth trainees are currently staying. The team interviewed the three young farmers from the Philippines -- Vilmabelle R. Ingalla from Western Visayas, Abraham D. Kaslon from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), and Marilyn E. Donato from Central Luzon.
Ingalla is assigned to Kitagawa Poultry Farm owned by Takaki in Chiba Prefecture, while Kaslon is assigned to rice, potato, and wheat farms owned by Norihito Morishima in Tochigi Prefecture. Donato, on the other hand, is currently assigned at the strawberry, rice, and sweet potato farms at the Oarais Berry Farm, owned by Mr. Yoshiyuki Kamiyama-cho in Ibaraki Prefecture.
During the interview, the trainees expressed that it is high time for the JAEC to amend its policies related to their financial allowance and working hours. During the JAEC’s Annual Meeting in Tokyo on May 19, Dr. Mula recommended increasing the monthly stipend and adherence to agreed working hours. While the recommendation is currently being considered, potential changes may be applied by the JAEC effective only to the succeeding YFFLTPJ batches.
Based on experiences, the trainees also think that the training program is challenging and labor-intensive yet accomplishing and rewarding as they are exposed to the discipline and worth ethics of the Japanese people.
Meanwhile, Dr. Mula discussed other commodity areas of importance for the Philippine agriculture such as livestock, dairy, fishery, and aquatic resources that may be included in the training program.
Initiatives such as the Safe Vegetable Production Technology Dissemination (SAVERS) and Farmers Vegetable Distribution System Improvement Project (FIVPS), set for implementation this year, were also tackled in the annual meeting.
On the other hand, the M&E team had the opportunity to witness and document the best practices and innovations from the Kikuchi Farm, Shizukuda Farm, and Yokomori Farm in Minamisaku-gun, Nagano. The farms showcased highly-mechanized farming technologies, strong family enterprises, innovative value-adding of products, efficient marketing techniques that include consolidation and cooperation, and ingenious postharvest practices (e.g., packaging and branding).
The team also visited the JA Shipping Center and Mokusako Facility located in Minamisaku-gun, Nagano. Mokusako popularly known as wood vinegar is a Japanese technology that promotes organic production of crops
YFFLTPJ is implemented by the JAEC with support from the Japan Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). The program was initially managed by the National Agricultural and Fishery Council (NAFC).
Responding to the challenges and opportunities as well as ensuring the program’s continuity and sustainability, the YFFLTPJ was turned over to ATI on September 25, 2014. A total of 592 young farmers have completed the training program since its inception in 1986, wherein 117 of them were assisted by the ATI. ###