By Danny O. Calleja
The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) is tapping the technical expertise of Bicol University (BU) in empowering farmers in the region as vanguards of natural resources and warriors for food security.
BU has been one of the five state universities and colleges (SUC) assigned by the PCARRD as partners in the nationwide implementation of the Conservation Farming Village (CFV), a program to enhance the transfer of technologies and practices for the protection and management of the natural resources against degradation while sustaining food and fiber production.
The other SUCs are the newly opened Ifugao State University (IFSU) in Ifugao province, University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB), Silliman University (SU) in Negros Oriental and University of Southeastern Philippines (USeP) in Davao del Norte.
According to Tomas Briñas, the regional director for Bicol of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the mother agency of the PCARRD based here, CFV is a program on conservation farming that incorporates protection and management of the natural resources.
“It will be the BU College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources (BUCAFNR) that is tasked to train farmers from Bicol and neighboring regions so that they are armed with technologies and correct practices towards serving as vanguards of sloping land resources, soldiers of food and fiber production and resource managers,” Briñas said.
The program aims to intensify the transfer to farmers of technologies and practices against ecological degradation while sustaining agricultural productivity for sustained food security and fiber production, he said.
It also entails tapping the active leadership and participation of the local government units (LGUs) in carrying out program activities such as extension work, community organizing, and facilitating market linkages and other support services and provision of technical expertise and guidance by a SUC in the province or nearest the implementation site, Briñas said.
CFV adopts the community-based participatory approach to technology development, promotion and utilization and multi-level technology promotion mechanism that will capacitate local extension agents, he explained.
Such strategies would ensure sustainability of efforts in promoting upland farming technologies and approaches and would strengthen the “multiplier effect” of existing technology diffusion processes at the local level, he stressed.
The program is being coordinated by PCARRD and is being funded by the Kennedy Round 2 Productivity Enhancement Program (KR2 PEP) through the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
Through the BUCAFNR, Briñas said, the program would enhance farmers’ adoption of technologies through model science and technology (S&T)-based farming in the sloping lands, thereby enhancing their productivity and farm efficiency as well as conservation and protection of fragile upland resources.
At the same time, it would capacitate key groups and stakeholders in the community to better manage fragile upland resources on a sustained basis, he noted.
To do that, the BUCAFNR will conduct sustainability exercises to ensure that upland community development, in general, and adoption of model farms, in particular, are done on a sustainable basis and incorporated into local planning and implementation processes, he said.
It will also establish linkages among research-extension agencies and organizations for capacity building and provision of support systems for the conservation farming communities, Briñas added.
But although implementation of the program has been entrusted to the SUCs, he explained that the DOST-PCARRD will still do the monitoring and evaluation through the Agency In-House Reviews and the Regional Symposium on Research and Development (R&D) Highlights.
A Regional Applied Communication Officer (RACO) will be deployed to provide information, education and communication (IEC) materials within the regional network, particularly to farmers, extension workers and other agriculture-related entrepreneurs.
Likewise, Briñas said, the Regional Management Information Service (RMIS) will manage research information systems such as the Research and Development Management Information Systems (RDMIS), Research Information Storage and Retrieval Systems (RESTRES) and Agriculture Resources Research and Technology Information Systems (ARRTIS).
These systems, he said, will contain information of all on-going and completed researches and technologies in agriculture, forestry and natural resources generated by the member-agencies.
It will also ensure the development of linkages between the PCARRD, government line agencies and the private sector in working together towards the agrosocial-economic development of the region, Briñas said.