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DA-ATI to mitigate El Nino w/ radio-based ‘school-on-the-air’ program

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, June 26 (PIA) -- The Department of Agriculture Region 7 (DA-7) through the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) has embarked on a radio-based distance learning program to reach at least 2,500 rice farmers in the region.

The School-On-the-Air (SOA) for Smart Rice Agriculture (SRA) is the government’s response to mitigate the effects of a possible strong El Niño which the country’s weather bureau has forecast to hit the country by August and last until the first quarter of 2024.

“The idea of science-based agricultural modernization found a strong foothold during DA Secretary William Dar’s term, who believed that modernization is propelled by technical innovations, and scaling these cutting edge technologies to the critical mass of farmers especially in regions where the harvest yield is still below 4 tons per hectare. Radio broadcasting apparently is, by far, the most effective,” explained ATI Information Officer Doris Isabel Racho.

Set to be aired in rice-producing regions, the SOA is expected to educate the farmers on the standard curriculum on smart rice agriculture including the widespread awareness and understanding of modern climate-smart rice agriculture technologies and support services which are intended to increase the harvest and income of rice farmers, Racho added.

In the past decades, farmers have seen considerable changes in climate that weather patterns have become indistinguishable that farmers had to change their cropping seasons to adapt.

Aggravated by global warming, stronger weather disturbances have damaged crops and agriculture.

As agriculture and fisheries are highly dependent on specific climate conditions, understanding the overall effect of climate change and how it can impact on the food production

Climate smart agriculture (CSA) has to be mainstreamed as agriculture and fisheries are highly dependent on specific climate conditions, said DA-7 Information Officer Cheryl dela Victoria.

CSA sustainably increases productivity, helps strengthen resilience, reduces carbon emissions, and helps achieve food security and development.

For this, the SOA will bring out the CSA practices in Weather Smart agriculture where farmers heed timely and user-friendly weather advisories, where controlled irrigation uses alternate wet and dry irrigation, rainwater harvesting and community water management.

It also means Energy Smart Agriculture where solar energy is preferred choice, the adoption of biofuels and fuel efficient farm machines and engines are given premium.   

As to pest control and management, the SOA would be adopting site specific nutrient management, integrated pest management and integrated nutrient management; carbon smart agriculture where there is a bias to agro-forestry, minimum tillage, and livestock management to reduce greenhouse gasses. 

Over all these is Knowledge Smart Agriculture where farmer-to-farmer learning is encouraged, partnerships, collaborations and cooperation especially in market information systems and seed system sharing becomes a practice.

To attain this, the radio-based online learning program would be aired simultaneously while conducted by broadcasters provided with ready-to-be-aired modular scripts, radio plugs, and canned interviews provided by partner agencies like DA-ATI, Department of Science and Technology, and PAG-ASA.

This would be sustained based on the outcome assessment of the initial broadcasts.

To be implemented involving a coalition of private and public partners, the SOA would also involve enrolled rice farmers who would undergo pre-test, listening to lessons, and answering quizzes and examinations to assess gained knowledge and as an aid in the selection of outstanding graduates.

There will also be a post-test to help organizers determine the extent of imbued knowledge to decide on module modifications or program evaluation.

The SOA will conclude with a graduation where certificates of graduation will be handed to those who complete the SOA course with attendance and participation, performance in examinations and quizzes, farm demonstrations and other requirements have to be satisfactorily accomplished. (RAHC/PIA-7 Bohol)

ATI broadcaster Jun Oliver (L) and DA-7 Information Officer Cheryl dela Victoria (R) agree on certain issues in identifying Bohol farmer enrollees for the upcoming School-On-the-Air this July. (PIA Bohol)

About the Author

Rey Anthony Chiu

Regional Editor

Region 7

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