Written by Jaime Manalo, PhilRice Philippines
The massive youth exodus from agricultural communities poses a threat on the scarcity of future food producers. The Infomediary Campaign in the Philippines tries to address this issue by engaging young people to become infomediaries or information providers in their rice farming community.
The Philippines only has 13,280 agricultural extension workers (AEWs) to serve more than 2 million farmers. AEWs are those tasked to deliver agricultural information to farmers. Among the aims of the campaign is to devise innovative ways to address this gap and create new communication pathways to share agricultural information with farmers.
The Infomediary Campaign operates in 81 agricultural high schools in collaboration with the Technical Vocational Unit of the Bureau of Secondary Schools of the Department of Education. The idea is quite simple: while it is difficult to visit individual houses of farmers, their children go to school. Hence, when they go back home they can share some fresh insights on rice farming to their farmer parents. The school should serve as a nucleus of agricultural science.
Read, Surf, Text
The campaign has three main components:
- In the Read component, publications are provided to the school libraries of the participating schools. This is very relevant in many sites of the campaign where there is no electricity or when the ICT infrastructure is not in place.
- The Surf component introduces the students to the PInoyRice (www.pinoyrice.com). It is a website that contains plenty of information on rice and rice-based farming systems in the Philippines.
- The Text component introduces the students to the PhilRice Text Center, an SMS platform that caters to all queries on rice farming.
Additionally, the campaign banks on edutainment activities such as the Infomediary Quiz Bee to gauge the students' knowledge on rice. To increase students' confidence in discussing rice-related matters to farmers, all participating schools maintain a rice garden.
Bringing back the love for farming among young people
The Infomediary Campaign has been going on for 3 years. Most participating schools have managed to integrate rice production modules in their school curriculum and there have been some favourable results. Evaluation of the 2013 activities shows that:
- 94% of the students surveyed reported they performed their roles as infomediaries—they either read publications on rice, surfed the net, or sent SMS to the PhilRice Text Center and shared the information they gathered to farmers
- 51% of the students surveyed expressed interest to take agriculture in university
- 71% attributed this decision to their participation in the Campaign
The 2013 Infomediary Campaign Annual Report is available in this link: http://www.infomediary4d.com/resources/articles-written-by-the-team
Massive documentation of Infomediary Campaign activities including conference papers is available at http://www.infomediary4d.com/