SENATOR Cynthia Villar, Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food chairperson, pushes for implementation of farm schools nationwide as a means of educating and training farmers and fisherfolk to be competitive and gain more profit.
Villar, during the Davao Agri Trade and Expo 2017 on Friday, said that with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) integration, the Filipino farmers and fisherfolk should be more competent in order to keep up with the competition.
"We need to make our farmers and fisherfolk more competent so they can be more competitive and profitable especially since we are in the midst of regional economic cooperation under the Asean economic community. So there will be stronger competition. We will be opening up our economy to the Asean. There will be no tariff barriers among the Asean countries. So we have to really be competitive," Villar said.
She added that what she found out that keeps the farmers and fisherfolks from being competitive and profitable is the lack of technical expertise, lack of mechanization, lack of financial literacy, and the inability to access cheap credit. These things, Villar said, can actually be taught in farm schools.
Villar said that in 2016, there are about 382 farm schools in the country which increased to about 900 this year.
A P750-million budget under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority will assist with the payment of these farm school students' tuition given that their modules and teachers are Tesda-accredited.
Villar said this initiative would further help educate the farmers and fisherfolk.