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The Philippines: Rural development program gives farmers e-learning tools

Business World Online, Davao City, 27 January 2014 - The Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP) has developed 11 electronic learning modules as part of its capability-building tools for farmers and other program stakeholders to improve their knowledge of the latest agricultural technologies.

“Although developed under MRDP, these e-learning modules will also serve as valuable reference for implementers and stakeholders of the upcoming Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP),” Lealyn A. Ramos, program director, said, referring to MRDP’s extension program, which will be national in coverage.

PRDP, to run for six years with a P24.54-billion budget, will also create a tool that will prioritize investments that can withstand extreme weather problems.

The program will cover 80 provinces. About P20.553 billion of the funding will come from the World Bank in the form of a loan, and another P287-million grant will come from the Global Environment Facility.

In a press statement released on Saturday, the MRDP said the modules “contain relevant development information on various topics from project implementation processes to package of agricultural technologies on priority commodities.”

It said the modules are a substitute for classroom training as the program wants to make new development approaches accessible to everyone in a convenient and cost-efficient way.

Ms. Ramos said that even those who are not beneficiaries of the program can access these modules since the program will be online. Beneficiaries, however, are provided with compact discs containing these modules.

Modules completed last month included production and processing of priority agricultural commodities such as rubber, coconut, coffee, cassava, cacao, and oil palm.

The MRDP said there are also modules that will help local government units in the procurement process, financial management and monitoring, and evaluation, through the formation of community-based monitoring and an evaluation group.

These modules are to help local governments “better implement and improve governance in agricultural projects.”

The program also developed modules on geo-tagging technology and safety and environment safeguard. The geo-tagging technology, which the program launched in 2011, was intended to help improve transparency in implementation. The other module is intended to ensure that “the environment is not adversely affected by the projects.”

The Mindanao-focused program is set to be completed at the end of this year and will be replaced by the similar but nationwide PRDP. Approved in the middle of last year, the national version of the program will focus on improving agricultural production and marketing and will also take into consideration the impact of climate change in government programs.

Arnel V. de Mesa, deputy program manager, said that as a national program, it will aim to increase farm and fishery productivity in 16 regions and 49 provinces through integration of market-oriented and climate resiliency agriculture support, technologies, tools and systems. -- C.Q. Francisco


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