Best FITS Center Blog Series II: Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro

FITS-Sablayan is the only FITS Center established in Occidental Mindoro

Currently the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) through the Information Services Division (ISD) is conducting a rapid monitoring of the more than 700 Farmers Information and Technology Services (FITS) Centers in the country. The monitoring activity aims to assess the current status of these FITS Centers as well as to determine if these FITS Centers are still active.

For every FITS center that I visit it gives me the chance to know the strategies that the FITS staff employs in order to be successful in helping those who are part of the agricultural sector.

In this blog series, I will feature some of the best FITS Center that I have visited. For the second part of this series the LGU-FITS of Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro gets the limelight.

We had to travel about eight hours from Calapan City to Sablayan just to visit the FITS Center of Sablayan. But it was all worth it because we got to see how the FITS is effectively manage led by its FITS Manager Reynaldo A. Factor and MAO Lina Taal de Leon.

IEC Materials

One of the indicators that we make it a point to observe in relation to being an active source of information is the availability of Information Education and Communication (IEC) Materials in the FITS Center and for Sablayan FITS there is an abundance of IEC materials for its clienteles.

Among the source of their IEC materials includes PCAARRD (Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development), ATI, BFAR and DA-Regiona Field Office Region 4B.

It is considered that information dissemination through IEC materials has been a strength of FITS-Sablayan because others municipalities in Occidental Mindoro have come to the FITS to ask information materials. Even the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist has visited and ask for copies of IEC materials.

Own Space for FITS

Another strength of FITS-Sablayan is that it has its own space. Me saying that it has its own space means that it has its own building where clienteles like farmers and fishers can visit and stay to read informational materials on agriculture and fisheries, much like a student when he/she visits a library.

Though there is a plan to transfer the FITS Center into a new 5 hectare research facility of Sablayan where there is also a space for techno demos as well as laboratories. This may in fact benefit the clienteles much more because the FITS Center as an information resource can apply their knowledge through the demo farm that is established.

Support from LGU

No FITS Centers can exist and extend help to famers and fishers without the support of its local government. In the case of Sablayan, Mr. Factor says that the FITS Center enjoys the full support of the mayor as well as its Municipal Agriculturist. The budget of FITS is already incorporated from the MAO’s budget. The FITS Center is allocated Php 300,000 per year for its operation.

(FITS Manager Reynaldo A. Factor with MAO Lina Taal de Leon)

An advantage that MAO Lina Taal de Leon also mentioned is that their clients – farmers and Fishers, are very easy to contact and gather in case that there is an event such as farmers’ day. The MAO says that these farmers and fishers are just one text away and she can fill an auditorium with a capacity of 500 to 700.  Furthermore, these farmers are already familiar with the FITS Center.

One FITS Center for one Whole Province

For the whole of Occidental Mindoro, FITS-Sablayan is the only one established. This means that the FITS Center does not only give services to clienteles from Sablayan but also from other municipalities of Occidental Mindoro. In time this will change as other FITS Centers are already planned to be established. For the time being, FITS-Sablayan is doing a great job providing information to clienteles from the province of Occidental Mindoro.