ILOILO City – The local government unit of Lambunao in lloilo province is targeting to produce a thousand “champion farmers” by next year to provide employment to other land tillers.
Mayor Jason Gonzales bared this plan in his keynote speech during the local entrepreneur workshop “Road to Open Collaboration with East Asian Network (OCEAN18) in this city on Saturday.
He said the “Champion Farmers” program was conceptualized in 2016 and now has 319 members.
A “champion farmer”, also called a “middle class farmer”, is someone who earns P7,000 per month and has attended training conducted by the municipal agriculture’s office.
The program was created as the mayor observed that the town kept spending on the same assistance to improve the lives of farmers, but they have noted that “the success of the farmer is largely dependent on behavior.”
To motivate the farmers, Gonzales said they have come up with the six pillars of the program for the farmers: values formation, technical skills, provision of inputs, mentoring, access to markets and financing.
“Our goal is to reach critical mass that will impact other farmers because if we reach 1,000 champion farmers, imagine, one out of eight farmers in Lambunao will become champion farmers and later on, they will be able to absorb contract agreements, institutional buyers and they will become institutional growers as well,” he said.
“We are capacitating them so that later on, they could provide employment to other farmers,” he added.
Gonzales said their town has more than 8,000 farmers and 90 percent are into rice production.
Though the program is still in its “infancy” and the process to produce a thousand “champion farmers” will take time, Gonzales said that they have already presented the program to various audiences, both public and private, and they have been receiving inquiries.
While Gonzales said that they are not yet ready this year to extend their program to other parts of the country, he assured to roll-out the program to other towns in the province by next year.
“We will send technicians and champion farmers to other towns to help them start,” he said. (PNA)