Press Release
February 15, 2010

Loren To DA--Reward Agri Universities and Colleges helping LGUs

Senator Loren Legarda, chair of Senate Agriculture and Food Committee, is happy about state universities and colleges which are helping the local government units (LGUs) implement their agriculture and fisheries programs.

"I am enjoining the Department of Agriculture--the lead agency in the implementation of the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997 or AFMA--to constitute a fund as part of the National Agriculture and Fisheries Education System (NAFES) that can be used to reward SUCs with R&D and extension and training programs that are effectively helping LGUs in their mission to develop their agriculture and fishery sectors ", Loren said as she learned about the good practice of the Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology (NEUST) of linking with LGUs through Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).

Loren was briefed by the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM) Secretariat which conducted a regional consultation in Zambales last week to assess the national agriculture and fisheries extension system in Central Luzon.

The NUEST regularly signs a MOA with individual municipality, each MOA terminating with the term of the mayor. The university has a MOA with 10 municipalities--one MOA covers linkage between one college and one municipality. The college provides expertise only to one municipality, the service rendered depending upon the expertise of the college--for example the College of Engineering Department of Mechanical Engineering is currently assisting onion growers of Bongabon, Nueva Ecija by providing expertise in the establishment and maintenance of their post-harvest facility. On the other hand, the College of Business Management is assisting a farmers' cooperative in business management procedures.

The NEUST agricultural campus is responsible for extending agricultural technologies. It has a counterparting arrangement with the municipality--the municipality provides infrastructure support, NUEST provides technical expertise such as teaching/training the municipality. The arrangement is the result of consultations between municipality and the university.

The university requires each member of the faculty to comply with the directive of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in implementing the trifocal mission of the university--instruction, research and development and extension. For a 40-hour week, each faculty member is required to spend at least 21 hours teaching, 3 hours checking papers, 10 hours on research and 8 hours on extension. Hence, extension may become an integral component of the curriculum such as requiring students to spend on-the-job-training as part of the extension linkage with the municipality. Each program with a municipality is coordinated by one faculty member. The university initiates the negotiations with the LGU. The resources required for these programs are not over and above the resources already available to the university.

Dr Teodoro Enriquez, director for extension and Dr. Zenaida Guillasper, vice president for extension of NEUST, apprised the COCAFM team during the consultation about the university's efforts in helping LGUs.

"We are taking note of best practices of model SUCs so these can be adopted or give ideas to others. SUCs should serve as agents of change in the countryside, help new local chief executives learn governance, teach farm and fishing families how to have alternative sources of income, prepare farmers and fisheries folk and adopt mitigation measures for climate change." Loren said.

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