Mang Inggo, 55, of Casigayan, has always been cultivating his inherited farmland since he was a little boy when he would tag along with his parents as they would visit the fields. Raised as a farmer, he never had the inclination to acquire formal education. The future for him then was rather bleak – he never imagined himself to be wearing a three-piece suit one day. Early on, he accepted that his life was destined to be spent doing the back-breaking tasks of a farmer.
And he is now living that future.
But there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, Mang Inggo and his peers remain to be our biggest hope in the overall direction towards meaningful development. The farming industry and its ally – agribusiness – maintain their mark as the real springboard from which we might eventually attain that long-hoped-for industrialization.
“We were almost there,” Mang Inggo claimed when asked about the country’s dream to be industrialized. But that perception, of course, may just be remnants of the Marcos era. In fact, when a die-hard Ramos fan was asked, he said, “We were there already in the early and mid 90’s but we nosedived after that, didn’t we?”
It depends on what era and under whose administration you grew up in.
But it is a fact that not a single administration ignored the potent force of agriculture as a catalyst for development. Vision, mission, goals and objectives are simply recast. Programs and projects are simply re-packaged using different wordings. Implementers are sent to training activities where they did not really learn something new.
But the sincerity, the commitment and the dedication of agriculturists and extension people have remained un-changed.
And, all the while, Mang Inggo has always been there – tilling, buying inputs, harvesting, calculating losses and gains. Waiting.
To wait is somewhat innate among farmers. Most of them have not always been known to go out and seek for something that could benefit them. They would rather stay in the farm than reach out and establish linkage. This explains why a well-meaning agency conducting an extension program finds itself as a source of curiosity for farmers who have the automatic notion “What are these people up to? Kitan tayo man.”
This line of thinking is what the Farmers Information and Technology Services (FITS) Center aims to change. Situated at the Kalinga-Apayao State College, under the umbrella of the Research and Extension Office, the Center is intended to be a depository of information and technology that the farmer can use not only to complement and improve his existing practices, but also to inspire him to expand his farming activities.