PPP for Agriculture Training and Education Programs

by Dr. Jose Rene C. Gayo
as published in the
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 8 November 2010
 
In his inaugural speech, President Benigno C. Aquino III spelled out Public-Private Partnership (PPP) as a hallmark for his term of office. This signals a strong message to both government and private sector (business and non-government organizations) to work hand in hand in attaining our national objectives.
 
One particular area of interest is the PPP for agriculture training and education programs.
 
The agriculture sector, unfortunately, has been preventing the country from going full blast toward sustained high economic growth. This explains largely why we have so much poverty in the country today.
 
The poverty problem is not a question of the number of babies born, but of misguided economic policies and blatant corruption.
 
As P-Noy said “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.”
 
This is very much true in agriculture since this sector has been made a milking cow by politicians and government bureaucrats for so many decades.
 
The question why our farmers are poor is not easy to answer because the problem is complex, aside from the reasons cited above. But one important factor for such a dismal performance is that very few agriculture graduates have ventured into farming as a business. Why is this so? We have produced many good agricultural scientists and technologists. But our universities and colleges have failed to produce agriculture entrepreneurs.
 
Realizing the problem, the Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Training Institute (ATI) partnered with the Foundations for People Development (FPD) to train out-of-school high school graduates to become agriculture entrepreneurs.
 
The training program design follows the Dual Training System where 70 percent of the time is spent on on-the-job training and only 30 percent for academics and classroom learning.
 
This system has been proven successful in many countries that have adopted this approach that the Germans developed.
 
In the Philippines, it has been implemented by some institutions since 1985 and results have been quite positive. In fact, it led to the promulgation of the Dual Training System Act.
 
The ATI-FPD PPP probably is the first model in the country for agriculture entrepreneurship training. ATI provided the scholarship to the initial batch of 30 students who are now undergoing the training program that started in July this year. The FPD, in turn, developed the curriculum and got a private corporation as a partner that shall host the trainees for their on-the-job training. The in-school component is handled by the MFI Farm Business School in Jala-Jala, Rizal.
 
The two-year program is divided into six semesters. A semester consists of one-month in-school and three-month on-the-job training. During this period, students will earn academic credits and certificates in crop production, animal production, aquaculture production, horticulture, or food processing, depending on their choices. At the end of the program, students will receive a diploma in Agriculture Entrepreneurship.
 
The program as described may be considered as part of the plan to extend the basic education curriculum by two more years.
 
The idea being that students shall be prepared for the world of work when they finish high school since most of them by personal circumstances will have to end their schooling by then.
 
Thus, this bridge program shall afford them the chance to earn the necessary job qualifications when they enter the job market or they start their own farm business enterprise.