The MBA Forest Technical School Inc., formerly known as RMD Agri-Tourism Industries & Training Center, Inc. n Bago City, Negros Occidental, has trained and graduated 825 farmers since the establishment of their farm school in 2020.
The farm owner, Recelyn Dormido, has seen that the agriculture sector of the country needs help. She is one of those Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) technical school owners who expanded their technical school into a farmer field school whenthe Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund – Rice Extension Service Program (RCEF-RESP) Program was implemented. The Dormido family strives to cater to the rice farmers in their area, providing them transportation, a conducive place to learn, machines, and a sufficient land area for hands-on activities. The effort paid off as farmers later on reap the benefit of the training.
Farmers have testified that they have saved on fertilizer expenses by 25-30% owing to the training on the right element to put in the plant, the right amount, and the right timing. The farmers are also utilizing integrated pest management, leading to lesser expense in spray and labor for spraying. Some farmers also reported that their income has increased since their harvests increased. One farmer has testified that he yielded 27 sacks after the training, from the 10 sacks he used to harvest. Also, one good effect of the farmer field school under the RCEF is that farmers learned that having a group or an association can help them easily avail of government assistance. This happened to Ma Cela Bayog of Purok Katubuhan Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, who founded the association after she and her classmates graduated from MBA Forest Technical School, Inc.
Aside from the rice-related technical skills, farmers’ morale is also boosted through celebrating their birthdays, giving them a moment to exchange ideas with other farmers over coffee, the conduct of motivational activities, and wearing toga during graduation. The farm school also displays tarpaulins of the graduates’ faces in their barangay to increase their credence when sharing farming information with other farmers.
Since the farm facilitators are younger than the farmer-trainees, the farm school diligently sends their facilitators to the RCEF Training of Trainers conducted by PhilRice to fully equip them with the confidence, knowledge, and skills in handling the farmers. Dormido believed that the facilitators need to be trained well and be constantly updated with the rice farming technology to gain the trust of the farmers. One of the trained facilitators from MBA is Dormido’s son, Christopher Bernard Dormido, who is now serving as the Institution Head of the farm school.
With the 825 graduates of the farm school, Dormido hopes that it could make a significant change in rice farming in their area. (FB, DA-PhilRice Negros)