TESDA to provide training for farmers under new circular
 
Training efforts are being rolled out by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for farmers through the Rice Extension Services Program (RESP) under the TESDA Circular No. 101, Series of 2019.  
 
TESDA Secretary Isidro Lapena recently signed the circular that shows details on the implementing guidelines on RESP activities to be carried out by the agency through its regional and provincial offices in 1,010 priority municipalities. 
 
Section 13 of RA 11203 creates the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) or the Rice Fund, which entails the government to allot an annual P10-B budget for the next six years to several concerned agencies, including TESDA, to help improve the Filipino rice farmers' competitiveness, productivity, and income amid the liberalization of the Philippine rice trade.
 
Furthermore, RCEF, made up of four key components - rice farm machinery and equipment; rice seed development, propagation, and promotion; expanded rice credit assistance; and rice extension services - is implemented in an integrative manner, ensuring rice farmers are given adequate support and assistance given the challenge of free trade that has removed quantitative restrictions on rice imports replaced by purely tariff system. 
 
Under the rice extension services component, TESDA, Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), and the Agricultural Training Institute (PhilRice), and the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) are to utilize 10 percent of the total fund for skills training, developing new education modules, and other related extension efforts. 70 percent of this P1-B chunk will go to TESDA, while PhilMech, PhilRice, and ATI will get 10 percent each to carry out their own tasks related to the rice fund program.
 
Particularly, TESDA under the RESP cluster, is tasked to "teach skills on rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production, farm mechanization, and knowledge/technology transfer through farm schools nationwide," employing a larger part of the budget to scholarships and a small portion to advocacy activities.
 
This is among the other objectives of the extensions component of the Rice Fund to strategically raise the knowledge, attitude, and skills of the beneficiaries in producing more rice at a reduced cost, increase their access to modern and science-based farming techniques, and extend the availability of free skills training programs to them. 
 
TESDA will be offering Rice Machinery Operations NC II, Drying and Milling Plant Servicing NC III, Small Engine Servicing (Leading to Small Engine Servicing NC II) and Farmers Field Schools (FFS) Programs to promote rice competitiveness program to 73,000 target beneficiaries from August 2019 to January 2020.
 
These beneficiaries, all rice farmers, farm workers, and their dependent listed in the Registry System for Basic Sector in Agriculture (RSBSA), rice cooperative and association members, in 57 target provinces, are prioritized in the said programs to be funded by RCEF.  
 
They are also eligible to avail of the training multiple times, provided that they take the training one at a time, and not simultaneously. Any training under the extension program of TESDA can be availed by the identified scholars. 
 
Additionally, to fast-track the RSEP activities of TESDA, Secretary Lapena ordered that its filed offices should coordinate with their local RESP implementing ageny-counterparts, LGUs, and other appropriate agencies, conduct an inventory of all existing and potential training and education providers of programs covered by the program and existing and potential relevant trainers and assessors; coordinate with the Certification Office (CO) and the National TVET Trainers' Academy (NTTA) for the conduct of Regional and Provincial Lead Assessors and Lead Trainers Training; and identify potential trainers who can attend the specialist training and trainers training programs to increase the pool of trainers.
 
TESDA also invites more farm schools to register their programs with TESDA so more training centers can offer rice production and agricultural technology skills-related training.
 
While in tems of advocacy and promotion of the program, TESDA, with all other partner agencies involved in the RCEF, wants to raise awareness of the RCEF program, enhance stakeholders' motivation to adopt the program; and cultivate a sense of program ownership among the target beneficiaries. END