Radio school for organic farmingBy Madonna T. Virola
Inquirer Southern Luzon
A “school-on-the-air” is teaching people engaged in agriculture in Calapan City in Mindoro Oriental how to unlearn harmful agricultural practices and how to learn what works best.
The Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) in Mimaropa (Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan) believed that radio is the best medium to educate people on organic agriculture. On Nov. 4, it launched a course dubbed “Buhay Bukid at Negosyo … Balik Organic” over Catholic radio station dzSB 104.1 Spirit FM in Barangay Lalud in Calapan City.
Aired every Sunday, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., with live streaming on www.dzsbspirit.com, the program was meant for a “captive audience,” like out-of-school-youths at Mary Help of Christians Technology Center until the ATI decided that its 16 episodes be made open to those who want to enroll for free by filling out a one-page form.
ATI’s partners include the Mindoro Ecological and Sustainable Agriculture Federation Inc. and the Diocesan Commission on Service.
Ruben Jugno, the agency’s senior agriculturist, said the “school on the air” project was in consonance with the thrust of the Department of Agriculture, led by Secretary Proceso Alcala, to promote organic agriculture.
“This is to enrich the fertility of the soil, to increase farm productivity, to reduce pollution and the destruction of the environment, to prevent depletion of natural resources, to protect the health of farmers, consumers and the public,” said Jugno, citing Republic Act No. 10068 or the Organic Act of 2010.
Resource persons, including farmers, will tackle integrated diversified organic farming system, farm management, traditional composting in irrigated areas, vermiculture, organic vegetables, livestock and aquaculture, and paddy rice production, and other topics.
“We want the farmers to increase their income with improved production, so they will also learn organic certification and product packaging,” said Graciel Gacutan, ATI extension program officer.
The learners will visit farms, with each of them provided extra information on CDs and leaflets, Gacutan said.
To encourage participation, questions will be asked on radio starting next week, and whoever answers first through texting will earn farm inputs like seeds and tools like shovels and bolos.