TESDA to provide rice farmers, dependents free skills training

October 7, 2019

TAGUIG CITY—In line with the implementation of Republic Act no. 11203, otherwise known as the Rice Liberalization Act, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has started rolling out training efforts under the Rice Extension Services Program (RESP) component of the said policy through the approval of TESDA Circular No. 101, Series of 2019 last September 16.
TESDA Secretary Isidro Lapeña signed the circular, detailing the implementing guidelines on RESP activities to be carried out by the agency through its regional and provincial offices in 1,010 priority municipalities, effective immediately after he signed it.
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.
Furthermore, RCEF, made up of four key components—rice farm machinery and equipment; rice seed development, propagation, and promotion; expanded rice credit assistance; and rice extension services— is implemented in an integrative manner, ensuring rice farmers are given adequate support and assistance given the challenge of free trade that has removed quantitative restrictions on rice imports replaced by purely tariff system.
Under the rice extension services component, TESDA, Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), and the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) are to utilize ten per cent of the total fund for skills training, developing new education modules, and other related extension efforts. 70% of this P1-B chunk will go to TESDA, while PhilMech, PhilRice, and ATI will get 10% each to carry out their own tasks related to the rice fund program.
Particularly, 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,” employing larger part of the budget to scholarships and a small portion to advocacy activities.
This is among the other objectives of the extensions component of the Rice Fund to strategically raise the knowledge, attitude, and skills of the beneficiaries in producing more rice at a reduced cost, increase their access to modern and science-based farming techniques, and extend the availability of free skills training programs to them.
With this, during the latest TESDA National Directorate Conference held last September 26 in General Santos City, Secretary Lapeña emphasized his thrust to support the rice and food-security advocacy of this administration, encouraging rice farmers to take up more agriculture and technology skills training offered by the agency.
“At the start of my term, I declared that agriculture will be our number one priority. Let us further direct our efforts towards food self-sufficiency so we can help attain food security for the nation,” he said.
In this regard, TESDA will be offering Rice Machinery Operations NC II, Drying and Milling Plant Servicing NC III, Small Engine Servicing (Leading to Small Engine Servicing NC II) and Farmers Field Schools (FFS) Programs to promote rice competitiveness program to 73,000 target beneficiaries from August 2019 to January 2020.
These beneficiaries, all rice farmers, farmworkers, and their dependents listed in the Registry System for Basic Sector in Agriculture (RSBSA), rice cooperative and association members, in 57 target provinces, are prioritized in the said programs to be funded by RCEF.
They are also eligible to avail the training multiple times, provided that they take the training one at a time, and not simultaneously. Any training under the extension program of TESDA can be availed by the identified scholars.
Additionally, to fast track the RSEP activities of TESDA, Secretary Lapeña ordered that its field offices should coordinate with their local RESP implementing agency- counterparts, LGUs, and other appropriate agencies; conduct an inventory of all existing and potential training and education providers of programs covered by the program and existing and potential relevant trainers and assessors; coordinate with the Certification Office (CO) and the National TVET Trainers’ Academy (NTTA) for the conduct of Regional and Provincial Lead Assessors and Lead Trainers Training; and identify potential trainers who can attend the specialist training and trainers training programs to increase the pool of trainers.
TESDA also invites more farm schools to register their programs with TESDA so more training centers can offer rice production and agricultural technology skills-related training.
While in terms of advocacy and promotion of the program, TESDA, with all other partner agencies involved in the RCEF, wants to raise awareness of the RCEF program, enhance stakeholders’ motivation to adopt the program; and cultivate a sense of program ownership among the target beneficiaries.
The Agency pushes for maximum publicity of the rice fund program so more rice farmers are aware of the benefits they can get from the free skills training, seed and equipment procurement, and others in line with the Duterte Administration vision, the Philippines being rice-secure, and working towards the accomplishment of Ambisyon Natin 2040 — the long-term shared life goal of Filipinos of a Matatag, Maginhawa, at Panatag na Buhay.

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