DA, TESDA reskill Kalinga farmers to boost rice yield

BAGUIO CITY – The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) are collaborating to upskill rice farmers in the region and increase their yield.

Ang half hectare noon, from 30 to 40 cavans of palay, nakakapag-produce ngayon hanggang 80 

TESDA-Kalinga provincial director Victor Brioso said a half hectare rice farm that used to produce 30-40 cavans of unhulled rice is now able to yield 80 canvas, farm areas that used to yield 100 cavans now churn out 130-140 cavans of palay.

Through the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), the DA and TESDA offices in the CAR started the farm schools training for rice farmers in Kalinga in 2019. Kalinga is considered as the region’s rice granary.

Under TESDA’s Rice Extension Service Program (RESP) the agency provides scholarships to rice farmers who undergo training that lasts for the whole duration of a “rice cycle” or from planting to milling.

“We stay for a day in the classroom and the rest of the days at the field for immersion and actual training. It’s like industry training. They also have modules to read at home and apply to the field,” Brioso said. 

The TESDA officer said farmers learn the proper application of fertilizer and pesticide for specific insects and pests that damage crops, and when not to use it to retain insects that are useful to the plants.  

He said the farmers are also taught how to properly use and farms equipments provided by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (Philmech), the government institution that provides technologies and equipment to help boost farming methods. 

“The concentration of the RESP program is to help farmers become more competitive in rice production,” he added. 

Brioso said rice farmers are evolving from just using systems and knowledge passed on to them by the elders, to the improved systems involving new knowledge and technologies that reduce the cost of production and increase yield. 

“Because they learn the proper use of technology, they do not use so much fertilizer any more so they do not have to spend so much on them,” he added.  

TESDA-CAR has allotted P17.2 million for this year’s rice extension service program scholarship. It has a total of P185.15-million fund for different scholarships in 2021. 

Kalinga has been receiving the DA’s Gawad Saka Award for producing a huge quantity of commercial rice contributing to the requirement of the country. It is also popularly known for its “Tabuk rice,” an aromatic, soft and quality rice variety, named after its provincial capital.