About 400 farmers from Region 8 (Eastern Visayas) successfully completed their University-on-the-Air (UOA) training on May 30, 2013, that was conducted by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) and the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Unit 8 (DA-RFU8).
“The aim of the UOA is to provide training to farmers over a wider area using radio as a medium. We plan to hold more uUOAs in cooperation with the DA Regional Field Units to train more farmers on rice postharvest and mechanization,” PhilMech Executive Director Rex Bingabing said.
PhilMech in cooperation with the concerned DA-RFU are planning to conduct UOAs in Region 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula) and Region 12 (Soccskargen) within the year.
One hundred of the farmers that graduated from the program were from Samar and 300 from Leyte. About 600 farmers enrolled in the UOA in Region 8 held in April and May, but not all were able to take the examinations and attend the graduation rites.
Bingabing said that 600 enrolling in the UOA for Region 8 shows that many farmers are eager to learn about rice postharvest and mechanization, which the DA is pushing in cooperation with PhilMech to help the country attain 100-percent self-sufficiency in rice.
Under the UOA program, farmers enroll at the DA-RFU offices and are required to listen for one hour a day, six days a week to a lecturer over a designated radio station. The training lasts for two months.
An examination is then given to the farmer-trainees to determine who makes the grade and attend the graduation rites.
“The examination is administered to determine who among the enrollees really learned rice postharvest and mechanization by listening to the designated radio stations for lectures,” Bingabing said.
With the 400 graduates from Region 8, the UOA program of PhilMech has benefited nearly 3,000 farmers since the program was accelerated in 2009.
Besides Region 8, UOAs have been held in the provinces of Pampanga, Pangasinan, Kalinga, Iloilo, Davao, Mindoro and Leyte and Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) and Region 5 (Bicol Region).