PLDT and Smart Communications Inc., in partnership with the Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI), have rolled out their first-ever Training of Trainers on Digital Farmers Program (DFP) for representatives and farmer scientists in Region 4-A (Calabarzon).
"There is still this digital divide in the farming community. We, at PLDT and Smart, aim to help bridge this gap. Our goal is to find solutions to bring technology closer to our farmers and make innovations work for them," Kristine Joyce Magadia, stakeholder management lead for Livelihood of PLDT and Smart, said.
Launched in 2019, DFP is a digital literacy training program that aims to help increase the livelihood opportunities of smallholder farmers through information and communications technologies. The program also trains farm owners and farmer scientists who will be able to help train more farmers in the country.
The three-day training held at the DA-ATI Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) office covered the basics of using a smartphone and the internet, and the advantages of e-commerce platforms.
Participants expressed their excitement to learn more about the advantages of digital technology and pass this on to farmers in their respective communities to help improve productivity.
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"My experience as a city agriculturist for 39 years only included manual training of farmers and transfer of agricultural technology through books and pamphlets. I was surprised to see how much a smartphone can do in farming. The possibilities are endless," Sixto Arandia, a farmer scientist from Cavite, said.
"We strongly promote inclusivity. We are excited to share the skills DFP equipped us with, making sure there will be no farmer left behind. We always encourage our farmers to explore available digital tools, and we are glad to be a part of their journey," said Amy Croop of Bounty Harvest Farm, who is also a learning site for agriculture owners.
To date, DA-ATI, PLDT and Smart have conducted more than 176 learning sessions and have trained over 4,000 farmers and youth, and more than 100 agri-extension workers across the country. Francis Earl Cueto