SENATOR Cynthia Villar on Friday urged farmers anew to follow the example of others who have since become more profitable as she continue to promote farm tourism and farm schools in the country.
Villar made the statement as she annnounced the launching of the updated version of the directory which will guide farm enthusiasts, trainees and tourists about farm destinations and learning sites in the country.
The 466-page 5th edition of Directory of Farm Schools, Tourist Farms and Learning Sites in the Philippines contains photographs and contact details of these sites from all the 17 regions in full color.
Villar principally authored Republic Act 10816 or the Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016 which paved the way for an increasing number of farmers, farm owners and farming communities to enjoy the benefits of converting their farms into tourist destinations.
The chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture and Food also cited the increasing number of venues for agriculture-related training which helps remove the barriers that prevent Filipino farmers and fisher folk from being competitive and profitable, including the lack of technology, mechanization and financial literacy, and inability to access cheap credit.
From a list of about 386 in the first edition, the directory now lists more than 2,500 farms, including the four farm schools established by Villar SIPAG in Las Pinas-Bacoor; San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan; San Miguel, Iloilo; and Davao City.
The first Villar SIPAG Farm School opened in September 2015. It is located in an 8 hectare lot within the boundary of Las Piñas City and Bacoor City, Cavite and is situated beside the Molino Dam to cater trainees from NCR, Southern Luzon and Bicol.
It has a training tent facility, two dormitories, a staff house and a farm house. It also features a vermi-composting facility, green house, solar lamp post, ram pump, two windmills, livestock, cacao school, a bamboo museum, a water impounding facility with tilapia, a rice field, a herbal medicine garden and a coconut house.
The farm in San Jose del Monte City opened in July 2016. Like the Bacoor Farm, it is also a venue of the training program on Agri-Crops production in partnership with East West Seeds Foundation.
The program is open to everyone who wants to learn urban agriculture. It also offers free training programs for farmers in Northern and Central Luzon and the Cordilleras.
On January 20, 2020, Villar inaugurated the Villar SIPAG Farm School in San Miguel, Iloilo to serve the Visayas Region. The main training program offered here is the two-week Training of Trainors on Rice Mechanization and Inbred Rice Seeds Production.
In addition, the Villar SIPAG Farm School in Davao City was established also this year to provide training to farmers and others who want to avail of agriculture-related training in Mindanao.
The farm school directory also includes a listing of farms and its classification under rice, corn, coconut, organic crops, non-organic crops, high-value organic crops, bamboo, livestock, poultry, dairy, aquaculture, wild catch, and diversified.
It also features a list of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)-accredited courses on agriculture, which farm schools can teach and students and farmers can avail of for free in accredited learning sites nearby.
The directory is a project of Villar SIPAG in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Training Institute, Philippine Rice Research Institute, Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, Department of Agrarian Reform, TESDA, and Department of Tourism.