Alleviating poverty via agriculture extension | Inquirer Business

Alleviating poverty via agriculture extension

A key to addressing rural poverty is effective agriculture extension.

Poverty, as we should all know, is most prevalent in the rural areas, specifically among farmers and fisherfolk. Poverty level there is at 34 percent. For comparison purposes, this is more than double the rural poverty in Vietnam at 19 percent, Indonesia and Thailand each at 14 percent, and Malaysia at 2 percent.

Our farmers and fisherfolk need this agriculture extension so they can learn to produce more, and therefore increase their incomes.


We will now focus on the details behind the Provincial Agriculture and Fisheries Extension System (Pafes) so its essential components can be replicated throughout the nation.


The main objectives of Pafes are as follows: “(1) strengthen the agriculture and fisheries extension services at the provincial level, and (2) demonstrate the effectiveness of Pafes in raising farm productivity, income of farmers and fisherfolk and food security, and in reducing rural poverty.”

Before a recommendation is made, we should first identify the real problem.

What then is the problem of agriculture extension in the Philippines? Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines’ (CAMP) Santiago Obien said: “The farmer gets very little guidance from agriculture extension. When he does, he gets it from several different government organizations which may not even be talking to each other.” The solution, therefore, is an adequate and coordinated extension system.

There are three reasons why it should be at the provincial level: The province is small enough to be close to the farmers and fisherfolk; it is small enough to shorten bureaucratic red tape; and it is big enough to have extension economies of scale.

In addition, Pafes should have a provincial agriculture and fisheries extension center. This will provide needed extension services such as that coming from a subject matter specialist as well as an operation supervision and coordination, training and information technology support.

In Eastern Samar, Camp’s Fernando Bernardo and Tito Contado are pursuing the same Pafes model. In a letter to Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, key elements of a successful Pafes were identified.


First, with government decentralization, the main agriculture development responsibility is not with the Department of Agriculture (DA), but with the provincial government. The extension team must be led, therefore, by the governor and the municipal mayors.

Second, the team must involve implementing government agencies and with the private sector as partners. In Ilocos Norte, the implementing agencies are the provincial and municipal local government units, the DA’s regional field office and the DA’s Agriculture Training Institute, the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute. Partners include farmer and fisherfolk representatives, private sector and rural-based organizations, Camp and the Agri-Fisheries Alliance (Afa).

It should be noted that the affected farmers and fisherfolk as well as the state universities and research institutions are essential to this team. In many instances, these two groups are completely forgotten.

Third, there must be a partnership building and engagement workshop for all the team members. They should identify the major issues and solutions, the roles and assignments of each team member and an agreed upon timetable. A memorandum of agreement signed by all team members is also necessary.

Finally, there should be a Provincial Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Center under the leadership of the governor. This unified body will prioritize and coordinate all extension services for the beneficiaries.

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The solution to poverty cannot wait. More effective agricultural extension using the main elements of Pafes described here should be adopted. The governors must exercise political will.

TAGS: Agriculture, Poverty

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