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THE PHILIPPINE AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SYSTEM: A LOOK AT THE BUREAU OF SOILS AND WATER MANAGEMENTS ORGANIC FERTILIZER PRODUCTION

PROJECT AS A SAMPLE EXTENSION DELIVERY UNDER THE NATIONAL RICE PROGRAM Philippine Country Paper for the Workshop on Rural Development For High Level Officers of the AFACI Member Countries August 7 14, 2010 Rural Development Administration, Suwon, Republic of Korea

Rodelio B. Carating*, Mercedes Fernando, and Silvino Q. Tejada Senior Science Research Specialist, BSWM - GMA Rice Program Coordinator, and Executive Director, respectively Bureau of Soils and Water Management Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City Overview of the Philippine Agricultural Extension System Agricultural extension is the application of scientific research and new knowledge to agricultural practices through farmer education. For the Department of Agriculture, the field of agricultural extension now encompasses a wide range of communication and learning activities organized for rural people and done not only by a single agency in the course of implementation of various food, fiber, and energy production programs. Extension is

management of knowledge to empower farmers and organizations so that they can manage problems and resources to meet their own objectives. Under the Republic Act 8435 also known as the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) of 1997, extension covers training services, farm business

advisory services, demonstration services, and information, education, communication support services through tri-media. Nevertheless, the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) is the main arm of the Department of Agriculture in the delivery of diversified agricultural extension systems for the
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local government and other stakeholders; and thereby facilitate the flow of information on technology and other services that can empower the farmers and fisher folks to be more globally competitive. Take note that for ATI as a national government agency, the delivery of extension services is focused at local government level and other stakeholders and not directly at the farmers. This is because of the Republic Act 7160 also known as the Local Government Code of the Philippines. This law basically defines the operative principles of decentralization and local autonomy. Section 17.2 states that, Extension and on-site research services and facilities related to agriculture and fishery activities which include dispersal of livestock and poultry, fingerlings, and other seeding materials for aquaculture; palay, corn, and vegetable seed farms medicinal plant gardens; fruit tree, coconut, and other kinds of seedling nurseries; demonstration farms; quality control of copra and improvement and development of local distribution channels, preferably through cooperatives; inter-barangay irrigation system; water and soil resource utilization and conservation projects; and enforcement of fishery laws in municipal waters including the conservation of mangroves are discharged by municipal governments. Chapter 3 and Article One of the law provides provisions on the relationship between the National Government and the Local Government Units. Section 25.b states that national

agencies and offices with project implementation functions shall coordinate with local government units concerned in the discharge of these functions. These local government units are to be involved both in the planning and implementation of national projects. This Local Government Code has devolved national agricultural extension functions to local governments. National government agencies implementing their various programs and

projects would have to coordinate with local government units to reach out to intended farmer beneficiaries. There are pending legislative bills to improve the structure of agricultural

extension system in the Philippines which would include the expansion of ATIs limited mandate to provide extension services and to provide for additional funds to finance extension operations. At any rate, ATIs major programs focus on four components (1) extension governance and policy which is aimed to develop an integrated national extension policy and agenda for agriculture and fisheries; (2) knowledge management for pre-testing and packaging technologybased knowledge products and the establishment of agriculture and fisheries knowledge centers in all regions of the country; (3) agricultural extension innovations and trainings which could be commodity-based courses, social technology courses, and agribusiness entrepreneurship courses; and (4) partnerships not only with other Department of Agriculture agencies (such as the Bureau of Soils and Water Management, the subject of this paper) for the implementation of the capability component of its national food, fiber, and energy production projects but also with local government units, non-government agencies, state colleges and universities, and other stakeholders for their specific extension requirements. ATI should be able to provide the

necessary data needed by AFACI in terms of organization of national and local agricultural extension, human resources engaged in agricultural extension services disaggregated into educational level and gender, financial resources, and extension focus. The Department of Agriculture Rice Program and Delivery of Extension Services To understand the structure and working of the Philippine agricultural extension system and its complexities and intricacies, we will take a look at a sample food production program of the Department of Agriculture, the Rice Program. More or less, as we move from one

agricultural program to another, it will be the same extension service scenario, only the program content would differ. The Department of Agriculture has many food, fiber, and energy production programs but the Rice Program remains the centrepiece of its budgetary appropriations from the national government. It is said that rice is not just an agricultural commodity, but also a political commodity. Rice is also classified by the Philippine government as a very sensitive commodity in its international trade negotiations with the World Trade Organization (WTO) members. As a rice importing country, and in order to assure food security, the National Rice Program is launched to increase rice production and thereby limit rice importation and its consequent drain on our dollar reserves, improve farmer income, and stabilize the prices of palay and rice at levels equitable to producers and consumers. We have just elected a new president and we are still in the process of finalizing our new Rice Program to conform with the new presidents policy directions and thrusts. We are also in the process of coming up with the new Medium Term Philippine Development Plan. So we can only share in this seminar the previous administrations strategic framework and gains. The just completed Rice Program under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo presidency is called the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) Rice Program which can be translated as Golden and Prosperous Rice Harvest Program. In the light of global financial crisis and

subsequent impact of devastating typhoons that hit the country, the original program launched when President Arroyo came to power was re-structured in April, 2008 to focus on F.I.E.L.D.S. The acronym F stands for fertilizers, I for irrigation, E for extension and farmers training and

education, L for loans, D for dryers and other postharvest facilities and infrastructure, and S for seeds. It should be noted that while E extension and farmers training and education would be the domain of ATI, they are provided technical assistance by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) for the technical content of the trainings, and these sets of trainings refer to various regular rice extension courses (example is Palay Check) under the Rice Program. Both ATI and PhilRice receive separate funds under the Rice Program for the implementation of their respective program components. All the other program components like F- fertilizers which is the domain of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) would also have its own extension requirements for which coordination with ATI is separately needed for the capability building of its project beneficiaries under the FIELDS program. As in the case of PhilRice providing ATI with technical support for the over-all extension activities of the FIELDS, it is incumbent also upon BSWM to provide ATI with the technical support to achieve the F-fertilizer extension goals and objectives. The BSWM Organic Fertilizer Production Project Under FIELDS Rationale. The high cost of chemical pesticides and fertilizers translates into lower net income for farmers. In the second and third quarter of 2008 when FIELDS was launched, the prices of major inorganic fertilizers like urea, ammosul, and ammophos which are used in rice production surged. This price hike had a negative effect on fertilizer usage, yield, and income of farmers. Since most farmers are already cash strapped and further aggravated by spiralling prices of inputs, they were not able to supply the recommended amount of fertilizers resulting to poor crop stand low yield. This situation could be translated to lower farm income. Moreover,

the continued application of chemicals has caused the deterioration in the quality of natural resource base with repercussion on the ability of the resource to sustain increases in yield output. Recognizing these negative effects of sole and long-term usage of imported inorganic fertilizers, a clamour to shift from conventional to a more sustainable production system has been strong in several sectors of the society since the start of the new millennium. The

government acknowledged this need with the issuance of Executive Order (E.O.) No. 481 in 2006. It declares as a state policy the promotion and development of organic agriculture. As a national policy, BSWM does not exclude the application of inorganic fertilizers in agricultural production systems because E.O. 481 was issued. But rather, the policy is mixed organic and inorganic fertilization under the Balanced Fertilization Strategy. Subsequently in 2010, the national legislature enacted the Organic Agriculture Act. At any rate, going back to the high cost of inorganic fertilizers, and as part of farm waste management strategy required under another law, the Solid Waste Management Law, BSWM implements the production of commercial organic fertilizers by farmers and farmer groups. The Organic Fertilizer Production Project. Basically, the Organic Fertilizer

Production Project establishes composting facilities and the upgrades Trichoderma production laboratories, biological N fertilizer mixing plants and institutional support. Note that since we are focused on the Rice Program, rice straw is the targeted farm waste to be composted. Project beneficiaries are Local Government Units, farmer cooperatives and farmer groups. A

memorandum of agreement with the beneficiary group is required to be able to participate in the project. The detail of the project component are as follows:

a.

Establishment of 1,380 community-based composting facilities. These are established in 100-hectare cluster farms. The composting facility includes 1 unit of shredder with 6.5 Hp gasoline engine; 2 units compost tea brewer, 30 liters capacity; 15 kilos African Night Crawler compost worms; 3 units vermin-bed, 1 meter x 3 meter. There is an equity required for the farmer beneficiaries such as plant site and structure to house the facilities.

b. Upgrading of existing Trichoderma production laboratories.

As an alternative to In-situ

vermicomposting, the use of compost fungus activators is also promoted.

application of Trichoderma in the rice straw right in the field after harvest is also encouraged under what is called the modified rapid composting practice to prevent burning of rice straws. c. Recomissioning/upgrading of non-operational biological N fertilizer mixing plants. BSWM, in collaboration with UPLB-National Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH) also promotes the use of biological nitrogen fixers in the soil. Equipment grant is given together with training on various phases of mixing plant operations. As in other grants, farmer group equity is required. This is coordinated with ATI. The

d. Trainors Training and Information Campaign.

extension workers will be provided with the appropriate tools for them to reach out to farmers. Features of the Organic Fertilizer Production Extension Activities As we have discussed so far, there are many unique features in the agricultural extension system in the Philippines. ATI is in-charge of the national agricultural extension system but because of the Local Government Code, we do not interact directly with farmers but rather with

Local Government Units through their provincial and municipal agricultural officers and extension workers. The Bureau of Soils and Water Management, as implementer of national projects such as Organic Fertilizer Production Project under the FIELDS Rice Program, coordinates with ATI for the capability building component. BSWM provides the technical content of the training while ATI coordinates with the participating extension workers of Local Government Units , facilitates training program, invitation of resource speakers which would include those from BSWM, meals and accommodation of participants, and provides the training venues through its strategically located regional training centers. Depending on which particular area is scheduled for training or for follow-up training, ATI assigns a core staff to handle the project training needs both at national and at regional levels. Funding for the extension activities is sourced from the specific project, in this case, from the Organic Fertilizer Production Project. The normal practice is for BSWM to download the funds to ATI and afterwards, ATI will submit a government audited report. When timetable is critical specially if the specific project is linked with the planting season (e.g., the farm wastes of the previous harvest must be composted in time for the next planting season), it is also possible for ATI to initially advance the expenses until the Memorandum of Agreement with the concerned agency is signed by both parties and reimbursements are then made. BSWM develops the IT requirements of the project. BSWM has its own Training and Information Dissemination Services group and is capable of producing its own IEC materials brochures, leaflets, and commercial-quality documentary production. BSWM has also its own training facilities like auditorium, lecture halls, video-editing and studio, and dormitory facilities.

Policies Relating to Organic Agriculture for Emerging Issues in Agricultural Extension 1. Pluralism. Pluralism denotes a diversity of views and stands in opposition to one single approach or method of interpretation. This will certainly be tested for organic agriculture as MINSOFT is formally launched. Organic agriculture has divergent methodologies, sometimes opposing philosophies, approaches, and strategies. The Philippine legislature enacted Republic Act 10068 also known as the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 and to take effect 3 July 2010 or 15 days after its publication in a national daily newspaper. The Implementing Rules and Regulations are yet to be formulated. Section 21 creates the establishment of Organic Agriculture RDE Network to be organized by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR). We are proposing as a policy clarification that it is not our intention to break down existing organic agriculture networks nor prevent creation of new ones. What we want is for BAR-organized RDE network to integrate existing, new, and possibly future organic agriculture networks to strengthen and enhance the promotion of organic agriculture. Pluralism as an emerging issue will certainly be tested when we federate into a bigger network various and dynamic organic agriculture proponents and groups. For now, this is yet an emerging issue. 2. Privatization. Diverse agricultural extension funding and delivery arrangements with the private sector have been undertaken globally. In the Philippines, specifically for the organic agriculture program, this is no exception. Privatization is used in the broad sense to introduce private sector participation. An example we can cite is the download of P10.5M to the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement for its Organic Field Support Project. This is basically extension work since the liquidation summary specified

brochures and briefing materials; posters, photos and flyers; tv program; radio program;

project video; website; infotext service; special events, IEC team and contractual staff; meetings, coordination, planning and networking; overhead, operations, equipments, and supplies; and media liaison. A detailed look at the specific expenses showed payment of professional fees ranging from PhP30,000 to PhP90,000 per month to various people, reimbursements of coordination meetings, share in office maintenance and overhead, cellphone card allowances, organic rice distribution, expenses for Alaminos fiesta, organic lunch catering, honoraria, just to some cite items in the report of expenditures. With the legislative enactment of the Organic Agriculture Act, various organic agriculture organizations and associations have mushroomed. Obviously, the intent is to have a pie in the budgetary allocation for the Organic Agriculture Program similar to what the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement got. Question that the new

Secretary of Agriculture who happens to be the proponent of the Organic Agriculture Act while he was still a congressman needs to answer Shall he allow download of government funds to private sector for delivery of extension services in organic agriculture? Our answer is initially, yes; just for the Secretary to see how these private groups would carry extension services; and whether indeed there was more efficient delivery of services, lower government expenditures, and higher quality of service. The attainment of targets, the impact of the project, and the liquidation report will answer this issue once and for all. But for now, as per our single experience, privatization of extension activities seems self-serving considering the liquidation of expenses. But it is not fair to judge privatization of agricultural extension as an issue on the basis of a single experience.

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3. Decentralization. The Local Government Code that devolved extension service to the local government units was enacted in 1991. The Philippine experience was that the experienced and knowledgeable extension workers of the Department of Agriculture were eventually given non-agricultural assignments by the local governments. Every time a new local government official is elected, the extension workers are replaced, not surprisingly by non-competent ones as a matter of political accommodation, without agricultural training, and without interest in agriculture, nor competency in handling and interacting with farmers. ATI has complained a lot of training Rice Program extension workers wearing high heels, and certainly at a loss on the subject matter at hand. There are current efforts to amend the devolution of extension services to local government units, and return back the mandate to the Department of Agriculture. I can say that the Philippines has a sad experience on the decentralization of extension service. 4. Development of information technology tools. The advent of information technology has certainly revolutionized extension services and its impact on farmers and fisherfolks could not be underestimated. It is observed that farmers do not benefit fully from conventional communication technologies when access to these channels conflict with their farming and household responsibilities. Information technology for agriculture and rural development can facilitate extension services and provide comfortable and equivalent services, initiate agro entrepreneurship, and support policy and evaluation on optimal farm production, disaster management, and agro-environmental resource management. A look at the ATI homepage shows that the Department of Agricultures extension arm has fully availed of information technology with their e-learning program. For BSWMs organic fertilizer production project under the Rice Program and the

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Department of Agricultures Organic Agriculture Program, we are yet to fully maximize the application of information technology in the extension services that we provide. On the part of the Department of Agriculture, there are continuing efforts to make available to the general public digital data relating to market information, agro-weather information, agricultural resource and material information. These are of course available per agency, but it would take time for an integrated and holistic information system as support to farmers and policy makers decision making. On the part of BSWM, we are still consolidating our digital spatial data to come up with a web-based soil information system that is accessible and understandable to ordinary farmers. 5. Gender sensitivities. This is actually not a major issue in the Philippines, especially in agricultural extension. We do have many female extension workers and many female beneficiaries of agricultural extension programs. We do not have an extension work force that is gender biased. However, it is true that women have limited access to rural organizations and they do not benefit to the same extent as men do. Nor are they able to participate equally in decision-making and policy directions. Currently, there are several non-governmental networks and federations that integrate gender and development in their community-based projects and conduct various gender sensitivity and leadership development trainings for women. The national government through the Census and Statistics Office also initiates gender disaggregation data (community profile, baseline data, project reports) to enable gender analysis and planning in identifying aspects of culture, division of labor, and access to and control of resources for the purpose of understanding their implications in the design and implementation of development projects.

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6. Client focus. Extension service is targeted to focus on areas and groups where marginal impact is likely to be greatest. This requires a more flexible system that identifies the gap between the best and average practice and an approach that farmers would not find intimidating. The central focus of our extension work is to empower farmers such as giving them a voice in the extension delivery system. This is achieved by a number of ways. Foremost is the philosophy that we do not come to the area with a solution to the farmers problem when the farmers themselves have not identified their problems. The second philosophy is that farmers themselves are part of the solution and this can come in terms of equity to the project and farmers organization. Our experiences so far, without these two major philosophies in extension work: once we leave the area, the farmers also abandon the farming technology that we introduced. A client-focused extension service is considered important in sustainable agricultural extension system. 7. Demand-driven. This concept implies making extension to be more responsive to the needs of farmers, especially the poor and marginalized and thereby create an environment that is pro-poor, and address the challenges of environmental degradation and climate change. For Organic Fertilizer Production, the main objective is to come up with

commercial grade organic fertilizers that can compete in the open market. While initially the focus is on the technical aspect of production, ultimately, the farmers have to be trained on marketing tools such as value chain analysis, packaging, pricing, promotion and advertisement to make them more competitive. Market failures is recognized as an important key that can make or unmake the success of this Organic Fertilizer Project. This is an issue we will address to enable our organic fertilizer plants to be competitive and sustaining. We have so far organized our biological fertilizer mixing plant

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beneficiaries by major island groups Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao; the vermiculturists would have to be organized next. 8. Participation. The emergence of participation as an issue to be addressed within

extension approaches has already received a forefront attention in the BSWM as early as the previous decade because of our soil conservation extension experiences. BSWM promotes the so-called Guided Farms where we provide technical assistance to enable farmers to practice farm planning such that soil conservation and management strategies are implemented at farm-level. We have long abandoned conventional extension

concepts but pursue farmer-to-farmer extension, farmer-lead extension, or what is called participatory extension. Farmer participation in agricultural extension service extends to all aspects of BSWM projects including Organic Fertilizer Production Project. The move from linear transfer of technology to the facilitation model starts as early as community appraisal stage by using the participatory rural appraisal concept. At project

implementation phase, we use farmer initiated techno-demo farms instead of researcherlead on-farm experiments. Currently, our thrust for our techno-demo farms is on

aggregated contiguous farms, minimum of 25 hectares. The average farm size in the Philippines is 2 about hectares.

Organic Agriculture Networking in Mindanao: Agricultural Research and Extension Linkage for AFACI

The

Asian Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (AFACI) espouses to

establish the Asian Network for Sustainable Organic Farming Technology (ANSOFT) to

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develop an information exchange program and working group in agriculture and thereby foster the development of alternative organic protection technology to agro-chemicals. BSWM proposes for the Organic Fertilizer Production Project to spearhead the creation of the Mindanao Network for Sustainable Organic Farming Technology (MINSOFT) to be based in the BSWM National Soil and Water Resources Research Center for Highland Agriculture in Dalwangan, Bukidnon. This regional consortium intends to organize series of

workshops to promote organic agriculture in the island and equip farmers with technical knowledge on organic agriculture. MINSOFT is proposed to be linked to ANSOFT. The work program will be conducted in three phases (1) the establishment of the consortium by inviting organic farmer groups, and cooperatives and the establishment of the technical working group; (2) research and technology demonstration; and (3) the creation of the Mindanao organic agriculture network through a website link with ANSOFT. Both the BAR and ATI will be consortium partners. Under the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, BAR coordinates the research, development, and extension (RDE) network. BAR will be the partner for the research and technology demonstration phase while ATI will be the partner for the capability building. ATI maintains several training centers in the Mindanao Regions 10, 11, 12, and 13. In addition to the regional training centers, ATI has also Farmers Information and Technology Services (FITS) Centers that provide farmers the much needed access to global information through internet. Summary and Conclusion Under the current system, the Local Government Code devolves the agricultural extension service from the national government to the local government units. As the extension arm of the Department of Agriculture, ATI is the main arm in the delivery of extension services

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to local government units, who in turn, have direct access to the farmers. Pending legislative amendments to the devolved extension service, ATI is focused on coming up with national extension policy and agenda, manages pre-testing and technology packaging of technologybased knowledge products; conducts agricultural extension innovations and trainings, and forms partnerships with national government agencies implementing national agricultural programs, local government units, state colleges and universities, and other agricultural extension stakeholders. The BSWM, as an implementer of a national project, teams up with ATI for the capability building requirements of its project. A memorandum of agreement is normally set-up to spell out the roles of each, the funding arrangements, and the expected outputs. The linkage is demand driven and not a permanent basis, focused on specific training activity or set of activities. As this is BSWM activity, BSWM downloads funds to ATI to cover the cost of the activities. BSWM produces its own IEC materials and has its own training, video production, and dormitory facilities. For the Organic Fertilizer Production Program, BSWM has long abandoned traditional or conventional extension concepts of linear transfer of technology and researcher-lead on-farm experiments. We implement participatory approach, even as early as community appraisal stage. Our working premises are that we do not come to the community with a solution to the problem when farmers do not know that they have a problem in the first place, and that farmers are part of the solution. Our minimum techno-demo farms are 25 hectares, with farmer average farm holding of 2 hectares. As for other major issues relating to agricultural extension, we have sad experiences on decentralization and privatization. Pluralism is still to be tested. Demand or market-driven

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extension service has started for the biological fertilizer production but yet to be implemented for vermicompost component. BSWM proposes the creation of MINSOFT to be linked to ANSOFT with the BSWM Organic Fertilizer Project as the consortium leader. In this proposal, BAR would provide the lead role in the research and development while ATI will be tapped to assist in the capability building requirements of the network members.

Acknowledgement Special thanks to Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Special Concerns Berna Romulo-Puyat and her staff Charry Em for the participation of BSWMs Organic Fertilizer Project in the AFACI network.

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