Firm sets up school farm program to help farmers

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — A Pangasinan-based agricultural firm has launched a school farm initiative to help farmers hone their craft.

Our Farm Republic (OFR) is an integrated and diversified farm which aims to promote modern farming techniques and best practices to boost farmers’ harvests, company founder and head Lea Santiago said.

With the support of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) program, the OFR seeks to stamp out “gawat,” the traditional practice of farmers borrowing money to buy food for their families, Santiago said.

“I always believed there’s money in agriculture and it will remain a sunrise industry,” she said.

Santiago transformed her family’s farm into a learning site or farm school to help other farmers increase their yields and returns.

“I then converted OFR into a farm school because I know that farmers are hungry for knowledge in modern technology, climate-smart practices, crop and soil management and increasing their profits,” she said.

“On the side, we teach smart financial management as many of our farmers still don’t know how to count their expenses, their labor, the time they spend on their farm and the rent they pay. Eventually, we hope trainee-farmers would be transformed into agripreneurs,” she said.

By attending training and certification programs, she said she was able to upgrade the OFR as a DA-accredited Organic Techno-Demo Farm, a learning site for agriculture, and a farm tourism site accredited by the Department of Tourism.

With the support of the Rice Extension Services Program of the RCEF, the OFR provided free training to 75 farmers last year on the latest methods and technologies on producing high-quality inbred rice, seed certification, farm mechanization and financial literacy  under the Farmer Field School (FSS) program.

Today, it is one of over 200 farm schools that conduct RCEF-FFS program.

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