For helping farmers adapt to the digital shift, the Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI) received the 2021 Outstanding Extension Project Award for the Digital Farmers Program (DFP), a collaboration with Smart Communications Inc. (Smart).
The recognition was from the Philippine Extension and Advisory Services Network, Inc. (PhilEASNet), a national organization of professionals and practitioners of extension and advisory services registered under the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The DFP is a ladderized capacity-building track spread over a three-course sequence focusing on empowering farmers through basic digital tools such as smartphone use, social media, agriculture applications and more complex services like e-commerce.
With an ageing population of farmers who may not be familiar with digital innovations, Smart and ATI are tapping the tech-savvy youth to help farmers embrace the digital shift to boost their livelihood. At the same time, this method helps encourage the Filipino youth to venture into agriculture.
PhilEASNet awarded DFP for meeting its stringent set of criteria, which measured the effectiveness to which the extension project achieved a set of objectives. The winning program should also have significantly contributed to extension science, technology generation, extension delivery system, development policies and programs, and well-being of Philippine society.
Other factors included the sustainability and cost-effectiveness of the impact, and the innovativeness or contribution to the development of the practice of extension.
Over 70 DFP 101 trainings have been conducted nationwide since its launch in 2019. Smart and DA-ATI also recently piloted DFP 102, which focuses on advanced agriculture applications and the use of social media to help farmers improve efficiency and productivity. The course also aids farmers in developing e-commerce skills to manage online transactions and digital payments like PayMaya, a PLDT FinTech affiliate.
The DFP resides under Smart’s framework of Technology for Development that aims to narrow down the digital divide. The program is also aligned with the commitment of parent company PLDT Inc. to support the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, particularly SDG #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.
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