The Iwahig Corrections Facility (ICF) seeks to improve the skills and competence of people deprived of liberty (PDLs) and its staff in modern farming by establishing a farmers’ field school (FFS) in collaboration with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
Information officer CTO II Levi Evangelista said that the memorandum of agreement (MOA) with TESDA states the intent of the Puerto Princesa School of Arts and Trade (PPSAT), in the implementation of the farmers’ field school under the rice extensive services program.
The two-hectare agricultural land of the prison farm will also be utilized for the practical demonstration of farmers in inbred rice farming.
“Ang maganda dito ay maibabalik na of what is called IPPF, kumbaga sinabi natin na penal farm, ang makikita mo ay farming and ang tulong ng TESDA sa atin ay modern technology. Kasi sanay lang si Iwahig sa natural way, same method, ‘yon at ‘yon lang. This is the time to compete sa labas, hindi lang sa Pilipinas, sa Vietnam and Thailand, paano ba ginagawa ang farming,” he said.
“Sabi nga, it’s time to upgrade ‘yong skills. Hindi lamang katulad sa pag-aani, dati ay gapas pero ngayon ay harvester na ang gagamitin. Nakapagtanim na tayo at ani, ‘yong coordination natin sa labas, with DA, nakahiram na tayo ng harvester. Ang PDL labor ay nali-lessen,” he added.
The TESDA, through PPSAT, will implement the FFS under the Rice Extension Services Program (RSEP), pursuant to RA 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Act. The graduates and trainees will be given a National Certificate II and Certificate of Completion.
Evangelista feels that the skills they will learn from the agricultural school will help the PDLs even after they had served their time behind bars. The anticipated rise in output from ICF property may also contribute to Puerto Princesa’s food security.
The prison management believes that the ICF area is suitable for farming as it is also supported by water sources.
“As much as possible, ‘yong kaya natin bungkalin ay bubungkalin natin—mag-i-expand pa tayo. Unti-unti lang, kung ano si Iwahig noon sa expectation ng mga tao when it comes to palay production ay ibabalik natin,” he said.
With the training and technology, Evangelista expressed his confidence that ICF might expand its utilization of land area from the initial target of 60 hectares within its premises.
He added that TESDA Sec. Isidro Lapeña who was also present at the signing on October 8, will go back to ICF to closely monitor the development of the program.