The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) trained 1, 387 machine operators from 694 Farmers’ Cooperatives and Associations (FCAs) nationwide amidst the pandemic by stepping up the adoption of online trainings and webinars to accelerate the implementation of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Program-Mechanization Program (RCEF-MP).

With the Covid-2019 pandemic forcing social distancing, PHilMech needs to conduct its trainings for RCEF-MC through online channels. And so far, PHilMech has gotten positive feedback from the beneficiaries of RCEF-MP who have attended our online trainings,” said PHilMech Executive Director Dr. Baldwin G. Jallorina.

PHilMech utilizes social media platforms to conduct online trainings. It coordinates with the Field Moderators (FMs) who serves as the on-site Training Management Staffs in lieu of PHilMech for the conduct of the online trainings for the FCAs.

Jallorina said that since the quarantines and lockdowns started in March, PHilMech successfully conducted forty three 3-day online training sessions from July 20 to September 11, 2020.

The online trainings covered the topics Rice Tariffication Law and RCEF-MP, and the basic principles, methods, and systems of using the rice machineries with emphasis on land preparation, crop establishment, transplanting, and harvesting and threshing.

All three training days had an open forum after discussion of the main topics.

Most of the participants from the FCAs gave positive feedback to the online training courses conducted by PHilMech for the RCEF-MP.

Very interesting topics. We hope in the near future all individual farmers will be given free online lectures like this to make them updated in proper rice planting and management” said a representative from the San Narciso Agriculture Cooperative based in San Manuel, Tarlac that attended the July 20 to 22 online training.

A million thanks to PHilMech… very informative po ang mga topic ng mga resource speakers,” said a representative from the San Jose Small Farmers Association in San Jose, Camarines Sur that also attended the July 20 to 22 online training.

Naibigay po ng training na ito ang 100% na kaalaman sa makabagong kagamitan at wastong pamamaraan para mapadali at makatipid sa oras at gastos sa mga magsasaka na nais makakuha ng mataas na harvest/income”,said a representative from the Mabugnao Farmers Association PAMANA in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte whose members attended the August 3 to 5 online training.

Jallorina said that with the varying degrees of lockdowns and quarantines in the Philippines, PHilMech will continue to hold online training and even consider that when things return to normal, or when the threat from Covid-19 is minimized or eradicated.

The holding of online seminars also helps farmers appreciate the digital realm and digitalization that is starting to influence agriculture, particularly in developed countries,” he said.

Field Moderators, LGU, key to success

The organized field moderators who are also members of the FCAs have become the key to the online training course’s success. They served as training management staff on site. They were in-charge to set-up the required equipment to access the online training for the farmers. They assist the FCAs in filling-out online forms and other documents prior and after the training proper.

In time of the pandemic where most are in need of income, these FMs were given an opportunity earn a daily minimum wage for the service they provided.

Also the support of the local government units is very vital especially in providing IT equipment and facilities for a conducive learning environment for the farmers.

Article by PHilMech communications group