February 07, 2022

Taguig City – A total of 38,517 farmers and their dependents nationwide have finished various Rice Extension Services Program (RESP) training programs in 2021 from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

It can be recalled that in line with the implementation of Republic Act no. 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Act, TESDA Secretary Isidro Lapeña signed a circular in September 2019, detailing the implementing guidelines on RESP activities to be carried out by the agency through its regional and provincial offices.

Section 13 of RA 11203 creates the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) or the Rice Fund, which entails the government to allot an annual P10-B budget for the next six years to several concerned agencies, including TESDA, to help improve the Filipino rice farmers’ competitiveness, productivity, and income amid the liberalization of the Philippine rice trade.

TESDA, under the RESP cluster, is tasked to “teach skills on rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production, farm mechanization, and knowledge/ technology transfer through farm schools nationwide.”

Data showed that 26,898 have completed training on Farmers Field School (FFS) on Production of High-Quality Inbred Rice and Seed Certification, and Farm Mechanization; 4,008 on Service Motorcycle/ Small Engine System (Leading to Motorcycle/ Small Engine Servicing NC II; 3,628 on Rice Machinery Operations NC II; 3,448 on Bookkeeping NC III; 511 on Agroentrepreneurship NC II; and 24 on Drying and Milling Plant Servicing NC III.

Under the RESP, scholars will receive a P160 daily allowance, and free training and assessment, including entrepreneurship training and insurance.

Meanwhile, TESDA is planning to add two more qualifications under the RESP this year. These are Digital Agriculture Course and Pest and Nutrient Management. Further, the agency is also eyeing to open over 50,000 scholarship slots under RESP for 2022.

With this, Lapeña vowed that TESDA will continue to prioritize upskilling of farmers and their dependents. He also urged farmers and their dependents to avail programs under RESP as it will help the country to achieve food security.

Under Lapeña’s leadership, TESDA has listed agriculture as among its priority sectors in its scholarship allocation.

“TESDA is actively pursuing agriculture programs nationwide. Food sufficiency is a concern not only of the country’s agriculture areas and rice producing regions. This a cause of concern of all areas, including urbanized cities,” the TESDA Chief said.

“We will continue to work with other government agencies and the private sector to continue giving training and employment opportunities to our rice farmers,” he added.

In March 2021, Lapeña issued a memorandum directing Regional and Provincial Directors to establish Farm Field Schools in their respective TESDA institutions, particularly those located in 57 provinces that are recipients of RCEF. ###

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