First three organic agriculture farm schools open in Cordillera

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — In support to the rural development program of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority-Cordillera (TESDA-CAR) has finally opened its very first TESDA-accredited organic farm schools in Benguet province to train new organic farmers.

About 150 farmers will be initially sponsored by the government through the Training for work Scholarship Program (TWSP) of TESDA.

Under President Duterte’s term, the program has a Php500-million fund for national implementation.

Three organic farms have registered and accredited their training program with TESDA-CAR. Among them are the Masters’ Garden, Cosmic Farms and Lily of the Valley, all in Benguet capital town.

During the launching at his family-owned Lily of the Valley Farm in Barangay Puguis, Jefferson Laruan, a long time organic agriculture producer, said that he envisioned himself to one day be an instrument in teaching the farmers of Benguet to once again embrace and practice organic or natural farming methods.

He said that with his farm being chosen as one of the three organic farm schools to become training grounds, he is more than happy and willing to share his knowledge in organic farming.

“Organic farming is always in my heart, and this is a vision come true for me. That’s why I would like to welcome each of the students in our organic farming trainings,” he said during the launching attended by officials of TESDA, Department of Agriculture- Agricultural Trainings Institute (DA-ATI), Benguet municipal and provincial government representatives and owners of other organic farm schools.

TESDA-Benguet provincial Director Angela Gabriel during the launching said she is hoping for more farmers to follow and register to become accredited organic farm owners and eventually impart knowledge to more farmers on the proper production of organic agricultural products.

“This TESDA project is a nationwide project with a total fund of Php 500 million. We already got Php7 million but if we can show that our province is aggressive in the implementation of the project, we will be able to get more funds and help other organic farmers,” she added.

The newly opened organic farm schools in Benguet are, aside from Laruan’s Lily of the Valley, the Masters Garden in Barangay Longlong owned by Ambrocio Acosta and the Cosmic Farm in Barangay Beckel owned by Rogel Marsan.

The schools have complete amenities from classrooms, quarters, farms for practical learning and all other areas and equipment to help the students. All these three organic farm schools in La Trinidad have all been producing organic vegetables.

With the launching, the 29-day training of the 50 students at Lily of the Valley will start on June 16. The two other accredited schools will start training as soon as they complete the 50 slots of grantees.

After finishing the training, each student will have to take a certification examination with TESDA where they can receive their NC II certificates as proof that they have complied with and are equipped with the knowledge and skills that are internationally acceptable.

Benguet is known as the salad bowl of the country, producing the largest volume of highland vegetable supplies. Dionisio Dennis Jr./