The Agriculture Department said it allocated P3.86 billion this year for the extension support, education and training services of farmers as part of its commitment to empower Filipino rice farmers.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the budget would be used for wider and better extension support, education and training services in order to achieve increased food security and higher rural incomes.
Alcala said the government would establish more farmers’ field schools and hold technology demonstrations in more sites nationwide.
He said farmers stood to gain more knowledge through field days, expository tours and technology briefings.
He said the information dissemination drive of the department would also be strengthened through printed materials, radio, television and Internet broadcasts and audio-video documentaries.
“These materials will be made available in more local dialects, aside from Filipino and Cebuano,” Alcala said.
Extension workers of the DA and local governments would also receive sustained support through retooling and retraining. Local farmer technicians would also be developed and supported.
Alcala said aside from the increased extension support, the agency would also intensify the implementation of other production-enhancing programs.
Alcala earlier said the department and Land Bank of the Philippines increased the funding for their joint Sikat Saka program to P1 billion from P400 million to benefit more farmers in strategic rice-producing provinces nationwide starting 2015.
He said from the original 25 provinces, Sikat Saka would now cover 45 provinces producting up to 80 percent of the country’s total rice output.
Sikat Saka is one of the credit components of the Aquino administration’s Food Staples Sufficiency Program. Under this scheme, the government provides crop insurance as an automatic value- added service, along with assured market and financial mentoring.