VILLAR LAUDED FOR OFFERING INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS TO ADDRESS AGRICULTURAL WOES
Sen. Cynthia Villar's fresh and unconventional ways in solving persistent problems of the agriculture sector was commended during the launch of a training program for agrarian reform beneficiaries.
Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Sec. John Castriciones labeled Villar as the country's "Mother of Innovative Agricultural Productivity" during the launch of the Program to Increase Rice Production and Mechanization (PIRProM) at the Villar SIPAG Farm School in Bacoor, Cavite.
"We are gathered here to launch another idea, another innovation to improve our rice production. I hope, with her permission, to label her as the Mother of Innovative Agricultural Productivity," Castriciones said.
Castriciones said Villar also introduced the idea of rehabilitating drug surrenderers through farming activities.
PIRProM is the program of Technical Education and Skills Development Administration (TESDA), which aims to enhance farmers' competitive capability not only in terms of improving their yield output, improving their yield output through better seeds but also to bring down their production cost through mechanization.
This is one of the training programs TESDA will be implementing as mandated by the newly-signed Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law to teach skills on rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production, farm mechanization and knowledge/technology transfer through farm schools nationwide.
For his part, TESDA Director-General Isidro Lapena expressed his appreciation to Villar for taking into consideration the relevance of the agency in the implementation of the law. Under the law, P700 million will be allocated to TESDA each year to fund its extension services to farmers.
"For the longest time, we have been trying to improve agricultural performance. We tried legislating laws, including anti-smuggling, but until now walang nakasuhan. Ngayon iba ang tact natin. This is developmental, this is education," Villar said.
The chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Food was also credited for the growth of farm schools nationwide. From 300 farm schools in 2015, the number swelled to 1,855 this year.
As TESDA-accredited technical-vocational institutions, these farms benefit from added income of as much as P100,000 a month for training 25 students.
Villar principally authored Republic Act 10816 or the Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016, which encouraged small farmers to convert their farms into tourist farms and learning sites for agriculture and tourism courses.