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Central Luzon State University: An edutourism dream destination |

Travel and Tourism

Central Luzon State University: An edutourism dream destination

BROAD CAST - Jing Castañeda -
Central Luzon State University: An edutourism dream destination
CLSU started as a farm school and in April 1907, it became Central Luzon Agricultural School. It was elevated to a university – Central Luzon State University -- in 1964.

Sand, sea and sky. Those are usually the first things that come to mind when people think of tourism in the Philippines.

But the StudyPH-EduTourism program of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), aims to break this stereotype. How? By offering local and international tourists an unlikely destination: Philippine state universities and colleges (SUCs).

As soon as CHED explained the concept behind EduTourism and StudyPH to the #PamilyaTalk team, we knew we had to go on a road trip to learn more. After all, to see is to believe, right? That’s how Central Luzon State University (CLSU), one of the first institutions to take part in the program, became the first stop in our special series on EduTourism.

Located in the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, CLSU has been dubbed as the premier international agri-fishery techno-education tourism hub of the Philippines. Now that's quite a mouthful, isn't it? 

Explains CHED Chairman Dr. J. Prospero "Popoy" E. De Vera III, “Though traditionally not part of the conventional tourist trail, the university is being promoted as a tourist destination itself.'' Dr. Edgar A. Orden, CLSU President, shares that the sprawling 654-hectare campus has also been declared an AgriTourism site by the Department of Tourism and the Department of Agriculture. And with good reason. 

Over the course of 115 years, CLSU has built a solid reputation as an internationally ranked university that is recognized for its outstanding performance in agriculture, fisheries, and forestry. This includes being at the forefront of developing technologies and practical applications in these fields. CLSU has consolidated these innovations under their CHED-funded flagship program called the eFARM Academy.

(Topmost) The eFarm Academy team; (Below) Extending across 654 lush, green hectares, CLSU’s picturesque campus is the perfect EduTourism destination for lifelong learners, especially those interested in agriculture, fisheries and food production.

The eFARM Academy model

CLSU’s Engaging Food and Agriculture Resources Management (eFARM) Academy is a groundbreaking initiative in techno-agricultural and sustainable development. Dr. Gella Patria Abella, Program Leader of eFARM Academy, emphasizes their goal of sharing CLSU-developed technologies to lifelong learners. This is done through the program’s three components — eFARM GROW, eFARM KITCHEN, and eFarm Academy — all of which complement classroom education with practical, experiential, outcome-based learning as well as community engagement.

eFARM GROW (Generate. Reap. Opportunity. Wealth.) is the program component that seeks ways to increase food production and improve the livelihood of farmers through the transfer of technology such as Goat Production, Mushroom Production, and the Zero-Waste Pig (ZWaP) Farming System, among many others.

I was amazed at how inventive and brilliant our friends at CLSU are.  Seeing their technologies and systems at work with my very own eyes was nothing short of awe-inspiring. But going through the ropes gave me an even better experience. 

Goat Milking 101 under the guidance of Neal del Rosario, Senior Agriculturist of CLSU’s Small Ruminant Center.

eFARM KITCHEN (Knowledge Integration. Culinary Enhancement.) is where CLSU-developed technologies are translated into different food processing and culinary applications. As the program continuously develops different recipes and food processing techniques, they will be featured in eFARM Academy’s YouTube channel. eFARM KITCHEN also promotes CLSU’s farm-to-table advocacy. Once farmers learn different food processing techniques, they can turn their surplus harvest into marketable goods instead of allowing them to go to waste. 

Dr. Celyrah B. Castillo, program Leader of eFARM KITCHEN says that spreading these videos is just one way for “eFARM Academy to address food insecurity and respond to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals concerning no poverty and zero hunger."

The final component of the program. is the eFARM Academy itself. Formally launched in January of this year, the eFARM Academy website is the program’s online portal of learning and discovery. Its three-word tagline sums up what the website is all about: Explore. Learn. Earn. The user-friendly interface allows for easy sign up and browsing. 

Out of coconut? Dr. Yrah and Topher demonstrate how to top your kakanin with mushrooms instead.

eFARM Academy’s early success stories

CLSU continues to deepen its already strong ties with the local government, small-scale farmers and fisherfolk, and cooperatives. This direct engagement allows the beneficiaries to translate their CLSU-acquired knowledge into a profitable income stream, all with full support of the government officials on the barangay level and higher. 

Goat Raisers trained and assisted by CLSU’s Small Ruminant Center now grow a larger mixed breed of goat that fetches more than double the price of the pure native breed. They’ve also transitioned into the production of protein-rich goat feed to supplement their income.

The Mushroom Center at Brgy. Cabisuculan is the eFARM Academy’s model of success, one they wish to replicate with their other eFARM GROW partners and prospects. According to Marlon M. Diga of the barangay’s Mushroom Growers Association, from subsistence farmers with no income in between harvests, their coop members now earn a profit all year round. Aside from growing mushrooms, they also earn from producing mushroom substrates and starter kits that are sold to other growers. According to Christopher T. Tumampo who did the cooking demo at the eFARM KITCHEN, his income from growing mushrooms doubled once he entered into the food processing business.

Meanwhile, Zero-Waste Pig Farming system users can do without buying costly LPG. Through ZWaP, they now have an unlimited supply of cooking fuel made from the manure of their livestock. 

Because of the eFARM Academy and StudyPH, such inspiring success stories no longer have to be confined to the immediate community of CLSU. Communities all around the country, even the world over, now have unprecedented access to CLSU’s discoveries and wealth of expertise at their fingertips.

Taken at CHED’s StudyPH workshop-conference in Iloilo (L-R) Seth Vincent Valdez (eFARM GROW, CLSU); Dr. Celyrah Castillo (eFARM KITCHEN, CLSU); Atty. Lily Freida Macabangun-Milla (OIC-Deputy Exec. Dir., Commission on Higher Education and Director, CHED-International Affairs Service); Dr. Michael Ibisate (Aklan State University); Ma. Adrielle Estigoy (eFARM GROW, CLSU)

CLSU: Putting agri edutourism on the map

Through StudyPH, CLSU can help CHED underscore the value of agriculture in higher education. As an agricultural country, our economy relies on maximizing opportunities to increase productivity, focus on high-value crops, and help us achieve food security. Unfortunately, however, agriculture doesn’t attract many students, laments Chair Popoy.  

This has to do with our inherent cultural biases and negative perceptions concerning agriculture as well as the stigma attached to it. Chair Popoy says we see this in our folk songs, where one popular refrain goes “Planting rice is never fun.” We also see it, he says, in how Filipinos tend to equate farming with lowly, dirty, and demeaning work.

“We have to make agriculture sexy,” he asserts. “We must excite students and send them the message that if you take up agriculture you can earn a lot of money. You can make a farm very productive, You can use modern technology to uplift your family and earn a respectable income.”

Chair Popoy says this change in mindset should be at the core of the SUCs’ constantly evolving curriculum. And this is why CLSU’s eFARM Academy works.

Dr. Renato G. Reyes, CLSU’s Vice President for Academic Affairs echoes this sentiment but adds that EduTourism is the new face of tourism. With education as the anchor, we can combine all other forms of tourism to attract visitors. But we need to have a unique and compelling story that can’t be told anywhere else. CLSU has many such stories that can be shared.

Watch now to join our Trip to CLSU, the first stop in our special series on EduTourism, only here on #PamilyaTalk!

I certainly learned a lot in my short but eye-opening trip to CLSU. Who knew that farming could be modern, clean, and profitable?   And, most of all, inspiring! The sense of purpose, pride, and fulfillment was undeniable in the passionate professionals, students, and adopters that I met on campus. It was truly a privilege to witness the real-world impact of CLSU’s discoveries and technologies on the lives of their beneficiaries. Seeing the bayanihan spirit in action renewed my hope for a better future for our farmers, our SUCs, and our nation as a whole. 

Though CLSU is multi-awarded and can stand toe-to-toe with the best in the world, it’s been doing its transformative and life-changing work with little fanfare. And now, through EduTourism, it’s their time to take center stage, here and abroad.


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