The role of agriculture in rural development is sometimes overplayed up. In excessive supply are technical experts who can automatically deliver a plethora of proposals at the click of a finger – as if giving a series of possible cure to a disease whose cause they have fully diagnosed.
Most of those who blabber technicalese are well-meaning though. And they do have a bag of tricks that can nip a symptom at its early outbreak.
Take the Institute of Agriculture and Forestry (IAF) of the Kalinga-Apayao State College as one distinct example. As the department most directly involved with agricultural extension, and with its impressive roster of technical experts, the IAF has added Agbannawag in its list of barangays that it caters to.
The on-going extension project in Agbannawag is firmly anchored on the precept that if a certain community has to eradicate its problem on food scarcity, then that community has to learn the essentials of food production.
But a barangay can only do so much with its own limited territory – and this becomes an even more pressing problem if the topography does not call for considerable agricultural cultivation.
Here enters the very basic principle of conversion of idle lands to meet the demands of food production. Dr. Joseph Aguilar, Dean of the IAF and project leader for the endeavor, appropriately addressed the concern in his lectures titled “Crop Production and Management” and “The Establishment and Management of Plantations.”
The seminar-training focused on better techniques in the cultivation of root and tuber crops, particularly sweet potato and yam (ubi), that are adaptable to hilly and marginal lands.
The undertaking, funded by the Extension Office under Director Maximo Garming, was able to train 96 participants – most of them farmers, but with several housewives and young trainees. Aiding Dr. Aguilar in the training were Dr. Visitacion Aguilar, Mrs. Iluminada Calbuyao and Mr. Daniel Suma-al from the Municipal Agricultural Office of Tanudan – also Dr. Aguilar’s student in the masteral program of KASC on Rural Development.
Dr. Amado Imper, KASC Vice President for Planning and Extension, recognized that the farmers may know much already, but that there may have been a lot of new knowledge that they have picked from the lectures. The VP also lauded the IAF for making the dissemination of beneficial know-how as one of its thrusts.The IAF is now scheduling a similar extension training to be delivered to the rural folks of Locog.