Farmer training program aims to improve productivity and livelihood of over 20,000 farmers in the country

A nationwide farmer training program, dubbed Smart Farm and intended to teach smallholder corn growers across the country best farm management practices and the latest corn planting technologies, was recently launched. In its first year, the program’s target is to reach over 20,000 farmers in different corn regions in the Philippines.

Smart Farm’s center of excellence lead John Fajardo said that smallholder farmers, who make up around 80% of all farmers in the country, often face rural isolation and limited agronomic know-how, which limit their potential for increased productivity and profitability.

“The growing conditions of our farms are becoming more unpredictable, requiring farmers today to not only have high-quality seeds and tools, but also good management practices in order to produce more. [The] Smart Farm [program] was especially developed to help our farmers maximize the potential of their crops by offering agronomic insights, practices, and technical support to get the most out of their land,” Fajardo shared.

Smart Farm provides comprehensive training, from corn planting to farm maintenance and harvest, for both beginners and advanced farmers. The program consists of a 2-3 day training session in a demo farm, providing farmer participants with both lectures and hands-on workshops on how to sustainably plant corn.

A project of Monsanto Philippines, Smart Farm has established 16 demo farms across the country where training sessions will be conducted each planting season. These demo farms also serve as shops where farmers can buy high-yielding and disease-resistant corn seed products at competitive prices.

In implementing the training, Smart Farm taps the wide-ranging know-how of the leading regional and local specialists of Monsanto, including agronomists, plant pathologists, and weed scientists, who offer farmers a holistic understanding on how corn should be planted effectively

and maintained sustainably.
Training will be first conducted in Bugallon, Pangasinan. It will be followed by a series of training sessions in other corn growing regions such as Tarlac, Cagayan Valley, Ilocos Sur, Isabela, Occidental Mindoro, Camarines Sur, Capiz, and Iloilo.

Monsanto’s corporate engagement lead Charina Garrido-Ocampo believes that supporting farmers also translates into the growth of the local agriculture sector. “For almost 50 years, Monsanto has been supporting local agriculture by bringing a broad range of solutions to our farmers. Through this program, we aim to further sustain the productivity of the sector and improve the profitability of the livelihoods of our smallholder farmers.”

This appeared without a byline in Agriculture Monthly’s March 2018 issue.