Dr. Cayabyab from NCPC, UPLB giving lecture on pests of corn.
As an essential step in the development of educational program interventions, a “Pre-testing for SARAI Training Toolkit for Corn” was held last 24-25 January 2017 at the Institute of Cooperatives and Bio-Enterprise Development (ICOPED) Auditorium, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). The activity was participated by the Provincial Corn Coordinator, Municipal Agricultural Officers, Agricultural Technicians, and Farmer Leaders from Occidental Mindoro and San Pablo, Laguna.
The SARAI Training Toolkit for Corn was developed by the SARAI Project 4 (Capacity- and Knowledge-Building) component, with the help of SARAI experts. This will serve as a guide for agricultural extension workers in capacitating the farmers with SARAI-generated knowledge and other essential information regarding agriculture. The overall content structure of this toolkit puts greater emphasis on enabling users to easily understand technical concepts and to develop a better appreciation of the different interacting factors that affect corn production.
Volume 1 of the Toolkit, which is the Introduction to Project SARAI was presented at the start of the program by Ms. Heidi Mendoza, a University Researcher at the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM). The SARAI Knowledge Portal was introduced and demonstrated by the SARAI’s system developer team headed by Professor Concepcion Khan of the Institute of Computer Science (ICS), UPLB. The volume on climate, weather, and climate change was discussed by Dr. Yusuf Sucol, also a University Researcher of SESAM, while Volume III, which is about pests and diseases of corn, was discussed by SARAI experts from the National Crop Protection Center, Dr. Bonifacio Cayabyab and Mr. Melvin Ebuenga. A web/mobile application called Maize Nutrient Expert was demonstrated by Ms. Luzviminda Sazon, SARAI University Research Associate at the Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB), UPLB. Lastly, a computer program called Water balanced-Assisted Irrigation Decision Support System or WAISS and a fabricated cost-efficient soil moisture sensor were presented by Engr. Yaminah Mochica Pinca and Engr. Marck Ferdie Eusebio.
The pre-testing activity aimed to encourage the toolkit users to share their own unique ideas and to make their own contributions on how the concepts and information about corn can be useful to future users. The feedback from the participants will be used to improve the modules of the toolkit.
SARAI (Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines) is a project funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) with UPLB as the implementing agency. It is managed by SESAM and is among the frontliners of the school in its research and development programs. Project SARAI is the UPLB’s answer to the growing need to strengthen the country’s agricultural sector amidst the challenges brought about by climate change. It aims to develop an army of farmers who are climate-smart and who are confident in making science-based farming decisions. -RM Areglado, Loucel Cui and Cherry Padilla