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More than reciting a pledge

We recite pledges but seldom do we make it happen. How then did these two pupils manage to help their rice farming communities with a pledge?

o   They appreciated rice farming at a young age.
o   They obtained relevant and timely information related to rice farming.
o   They applied what they’ve learned.
o   They shared the information to their households and eventually to their community.

“Ako ay isang infomediary
Anak ako ng magsasaka…”
(“I am an infomediary
My parents are rice farmers)

Zoila Gracilla and Curls Aganon, both 15 and Grade 10 pupils of Corazon C. Aquino High School in Gerona, Tarlac came from rice farming communities.

At a young age, these two pupils learned that agriculture could not be taken for granted.

In fact, they had the choice to take other elective subjects in school such as beauty care, cookery, and information technology which majority of their classmates enrolled in.

Yet, they remained in crop production. It is strange in a positive way, to meet young people who have the heart for agriculture.

Good thing, their passion was not wasted because of the Infomediary Campaign, a PhilRice-led initiative that aims to mobilize high school students to serve as information providers in the rice farming communities of the Philippines.

Infomediary opened several opportunities to Zoila and Curls to hone their skills in agriculture and learn about rice farming through the use of information and communications technologies (ICT). What better way to engage the youth into an undertaking is to utilize gadgets that they use frequently – mobile phones and computers.

“Tutulong ako sa pagpapalaganap ng tama at napapanahong impormasyon
upang makatulong sa aking magulang at umunlad ang aking pagsasaka…”
(“I will help in disseminating accurate and relevant information
to help my parents earn more from rice farming…”)

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Both have been infomediaries for almost 3 years now and they are delighting on every facet of the Campaign.

Zoila said that learning rice production through the Campaign and its activities was fun and enriching. On the other hand, sharing the knowledge to her father was challenging. 

“Noong una, kapag may sinasabi ako sa tatay ko, oo lang siya ng oo. Pero tuluy-tuloy lang ako magkwento sa kanya ng mga natututunan ko hanggang sinubukan niya  iyong naibahagi ko nung minsang malugi kami sa taniman (At first, my father would just nod at me when I tell him about our topics on rice production. Nevertheless, I persisted in sharing my lessons learned. It was when we experienced losses in the farm that he tried to apply what he heard from me),” Zoila said.

Her father is now practicing crop rotation with rice and corn. Accordingly, this technique can prevent occurrence of pests and diseases. Zoila also mentioned that the practice gave a good return of investment.

Meanwhile, Curls had a similar experience in knowledge sharing but he was also persistent in helping his family in their rice farm.

Aside from practices such as modified dapog and multi-cropping which he taught his father, Curls’ also introduced the leaf color chart (LCC), a four-stripped plastic “ruler” used in assessing nitrogen status of rice plant and can generate savings of up to P2,000 a hectare in nitrogen fertilizer use.

“Hiniram ko yung LCC namin dito sa school para maipakita at maipaliwanag ko kung paano gamitin iyon sa tatay ko. Ngayon, kumuha na kami ng sarili naming LCC para sa palayan namin. Mas napadali nito ang pagtugon namin sa mga kailangan ng tanim namin (I borrowed our school’s LCC to demonstrate and explain to my father how to use it. Now, we acquired our own LCC. It was easier for us to identify and address our plants’ needs,” Curls added.

“Bata man din sa larangan ng pagsasaka,
ipapakita ko na ako ay may magagawa”
(“Even if I am young and new in rice farming,
I can still be of help to the rice farmers in our community”)

These two did not limit their duty as infomediaries in their own household. Zoila and her father relayed their learning to their relatives, while Curls and his father shared it to other farmers near their area.

At a young age, Zoila and Curls produced ripples of development in their own rice farming communities as they embraced the Panata ng Isang Infomediary (The Infomediary Pledge).

Written by Anna Marie F. Bautista, development communicator at the Philippine Rice Research Institute.