The Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI) will showcase its latest extension, as well as research and development programs at the country’s international trade exhibition — the Agrilink, Foodlink and Aqualink slated from October 3 to 5 at the World Trade Center, Manila.

ATI’s OIC/Director Luz Taposok said, “Our agency ensures continuous capability- enhancement for coconut farmers through training programs and free seminars on coconut production and processing technologies. For these initiatives, we partner with other government agencies such as the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to inform farmers and interested individuals on opportunities they can avail of, such as the easy access credit program, food business ventures using coconut meat and water, and value-adding activities aside from copra production, such as processing coco-based products like coco peat fertilizer, handicrafts, natural dye, and many others.”

There are around 25 million Filipinos estimated to be dependent on the sector, and nearly 3.5 million are engaged in coconut farming. Taposok also noted that despite being the second largest coconut producer in the world, the Philippine coconut sector needs to be bolstered further. Among the rural poor, coconut farmers reportedly have the highest poverty incidence at 60% whose income from the coconut products they sell, mainly copra, are dependent on middlemen. This is exacerbated by the adverse effects of climate change that the farmers already contend with. Empowering the farmers with the technical skills and knowledge needed to diversify their agricultural produce will help uplift their livelihood.

The ATI supports coconut farmers by providing assistance for the development of their farms to become a Learning Site for Agriculture (LSA), an Extension Service Provider (ESP), or a School for Practical Agriculture (SPA). These farms serve as venue for training programs, technology demonstrations, and other extension activities of the ATI in the field for farmers, prospective farmers, and other community members. Among these farms are located in Laguna and in Mindanao which also process their coconut produce into coco syrup and coco sugar, among others.

Taposok added, “Various training programs for different sustainable farming technologies are being held in Eastern Visayas to capacitate farmers to mitigate the effects of climate change on their livelihood. These include the Climate Resilient Farm Business School for local farmer technicians, Training on Sustainable Duck Farming, Farmer Livestock School on Sustainable Pig Farming, and Climate Smart Farm Business School on free-range chicken, corn, cassava, and other high-value crops.”

At Agrilink 2019, ATI will highlight several thematic programs to farmers and private stakeholders. The ATI will also showcase its partner LSAs, ESPs, and SPAs from selected regions in the country. LSA/ESP/SPA owners will be invited to serve as resource persons on various technologies to help walk-in clients in their agribusiness ventures. The LSA/ESP/SPA are part of ATI’s ladderized approach to extension service which is focused on productivity-enhancing interventions directed mainly towards the development of the farmers and, subsequently, their agricultural products. ATI’s initiatives aim to equip farmers, extension workers and other stakeholders with the knowledge and attitude in developing a competitive and sustainable agribusiness.

Agrilink 2019 is supported by the DA and its allied agencies such as Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, Bureau of Agricultural Research, DA-Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service, FIT Corea, the Philippine representative of Korea Agricultural Machinery Industry Cooperative (KAMICO), and 30 other major Philippine food and agribusiness organizations.

For free seminar participation, contact FRLD at (0917) 588-8799 or email frld.agrilink@gmail.com. Visitors can also pre-register their attendance through www.agrilink.org or through its official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/agrilinkPH.