Senator Cynthia Villar, who chairs the Senate agriculture and food committee, said the Villar Farm Schools help cultivate modern Filipino farmers.
“Our farm schools have a special role in our objective to make our farmers and fisherfolk competitive and profitable through training programs that will help them produce more and earn more with the help of modern technology,” Villar said.
The first Villar SIPAG Farm School, which opened in September 2015, is located within the boundary of Las Piñas City and Bacoor City. The second farm school, which opened in October 2016, is at San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.
The Las Pinas Farm school caters to farmers from the National Capital Region, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon and Bicol Region while the Bulacan Farm caters to farmers in Northern and Central Luzon and the Cordillera Autonomous Region.
At present, there are 2,367 accredited farm schools all over the country that serve as learning sites for farmers and plant enthusiasts who are given the opportunity to train for free on the ways of modern farming.
The growth of farm schools all over the country has been attributed to two pieces of legislation that Villar principally authored: Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016, which encourages the conversion of farms into tourist farms and learning sites; and the law on P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund which makes farm schools venues of extension services program.
Included in this roster are four farm schools operated by the Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance.
Supported by the senator, the Villar SIPAG Farm Schools have welcomed thousands of trainees and hosted hundreds of free training sessions on agriculture-related courses for free.
Conducted in partnership with the East-West Seeds Foundation, the agri-crops training program of the Villar Farm Schools continues in the new normal with modification to properly observe the needed health protocols.
Villar also built farm schools in San Miguel, Iloilo and in Davao to cater to farmers in Visayas and in Mindanao, respectively.
The Iloilo farm school opened in January this year with the program Training of Trainers on Production of High-Quality Inbred Rice Seeds and Farm Mechanization.
The farm school is specifically established for training the trainers on new farming technology where the graduates are expected to train farmers back in their respective towns.
The Villar SIPAG Farm Schools give free training opportunities to farmers in cooperation with other agencies such as the Farm Business School with the ATI; Rice Seeds Production and Mechanization with PhilRice and PhilMech; Aquaculture Production with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources; Livestock Production with the Bureau of Animal Industry; and cacao production intercropping with coconut with the Philippine Coconut Authority.
Villar recently released the 5th edition of the “Directory of Farm Schools, Tourist Farms and Learning Sites in the Philippines,” which lists 2,367 sites from all 17 regions. The first edition of the book contains 386 farms.