Two pieces of legislation by Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate agriculture committee, sparked the growth of accredited farm schools nationwide, now at 2,367, which helped spur the country’s agricultural sector.
These measures, principally authored by Villar, are Republic Act 10816 or the Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016, which encourages the conversion of farms into tourist farms and learning sites; and Republic Act 11203, which created the P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) that mandated a special role for farm schools as venues of extension services programs.
Farm schools all over the country serve as learning sites for farmers and plant enthusiasts, who are given the opportunity to train for free on the ways of modern farming.
Once accredited with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) or by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), the farm schools can avail of government support and scholarship grants as a learning site.
Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, promotes the increase of farm schools nationwide for agriculture-related training to help remove the barriers that prevent Filipino farmers and fisherfolks from being competitive and profitable.
Among these barriers are the lack of technology, mechanization and financial literacy, operation of the farm as a business, and inability to access cheap credit.
Villar SIPAG, where the senator sits as director, has built four farm schools since 2015. They are located at the boundary of Las Pinas City and Bacoor City; San Jose del Monte, Bulacan; San Miguel, Iloilo; and Davao City.
Training at the Villar Farm Schools are financed by the Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance (SIPAG).
The Villar SIPAG Farm Schools have welcomed thousands of trainees and hosted hundreds of training sessions on agriculture-related courses for free.