BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO

There is a plethora of courses and information available online to help farmers learn how to grow food, raise livestock, and care for the elements on their farms. But aside from learning through online resources, farmers also effectively acquire knowledge under the tutelage of those who share in the same vocation as they do. 

Seeing as how aspiring farmers benefit from the help of those who have established themselves in agriculture, the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) helps farmer trainees connect with experienced ones by creating accredited sites that could provide them with all the information that they need. 

Accredited sites are called Learning Sites for Agriculture (LSA) which pertains to farms that practice applicable agricultural technologies, employing doable farming strategies, and operating successfully, thus, worthy of emulation.

LSAs serve as a model or an example to showcase applicable agriculture technologies and agri-products/by-products processing technologies. They are meant to help improve the capabilities of small farmers and other rural community members.

There are presently more than 300 LSAs all over the Philippines. Among these is Iglesias Farms in Malvar, Batangas which is owned by Mark Dexter Iglesias, a graduate of Agribusiness Management from the University of the Philippines Los Baños. 

His farm is an ATI accredited LSA. There, he teaches organic agriculture production, the basics of starting a farm business, marketing in a farm business setting, and creating an integrated and diversified farming system.

But before his farm became accredited, he had to undergo the application process which takes eight steps.  

Step 1: Identification

“It starts with the submission of a letter of intent to trigger the accreditation process,” Iglesias said. This step requires a letter of intent, a recommendation, and an endorsement from eligible people such as farmers who already have an ATI accredited LSA. 

Step 2: Orientation

Once the ATI recognizes the letter of intent and sees that the farmer applying is ready to take on the responsibility, they orient him about the role that they have to play as an accredited LSA. 

Step 3: Farm profile form

Upon acceptance after the orientation, the prospective LSA is required to fill out the farm profile form where they will specify the aspects of their farm and what kind of information they can offer to possible trainees. 

Step 4: Field validation

After clarifying what the farm components are, the ATI will conduct an ocular inspection of prospective LSA and assess it according to their LSA acceptance evaluation form. 

Step 5: Acceptance

Should the farm pass all the standards of the ATI, the owner of the prospective LSA will be asked to sign an acceptance form, saying that they acknowledge the responsibilities of the accreditation and do their best to accomplish their role. 

Step 6: Development plan 

The sixth step in the process of becoming an LSA is the development plan where the ATI will work closely with the farmer to prepare, evaluate, and approve the plan that will make the farm more fit as an LSA. 

Step 7: Memorandum of agreement 

Upon approval of the development plan, the memorandum of agreement for LSA establishment will be signed by the representatives of the ATI and the farm owner. 

Step 8: 

Lastly, the ATI Central Office will issue the LSA Certificate and the ATI LSA Signage. These certificates will be displayed on the farm to properly inform their respective trainees. 

“Once all requirements have been complied with, the farm is now eligible to apply as a TESDA-accredited farm school. This will have a separate accreditation process though, starting with a letter of intent and close coordination with the TESDA provincial office for the detailed next steps,” Iglesias said.

Iglesias reaches more aspiring farmers and teaches them the ropes by being an accredited LSA and farm school.

Iglesias Farms is both an ATI-accredited LSA and a TESDA-accredited farm school. A reason behind this accreditation is because Iglesias took the time to attend training and seminars to be more equipped to manage his farm.

Eventually, he wanted to be able to share this information with others. And by becoming an accredited LSA for ATI and a TESDA-accredited farm school, he can reach more aspiring farmers and empower them towards their agricultural journey. 

For more information, visit Iglesias Farm on Facebook.

Photos from Iglesias Farms on Facebook