Tag Archives: 2012 Kalusugan Pangkahalatan

A Critique of the Agriculture Extension Projects OFF the Ateneo de Davao University

The Ateneo de Davao University Outreach Projects

     The Ateneo de Davao University in relating to the local community is concerned about where it could be of service. Representative of the University’s outreach efforts are the Davao del Sur Agricultural Extension Program, the Agricultural Extension and Skills Training Project, the Sinuda Agricultural Extension Program, and the Social Project.

The agricultural extension services of the Ateneo de Davao University officially began in 1979 with the launching of the Davao del Sur Agricultural Extension Program- a project assisted by the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP). Prior to this, Ateneo’s concern and involvement had been primarily academic. There had been some community involvement by the students of the University through extra-curricular activities such as social outreach, spiritual renewal, and Christian education programs. There were also social surveys taken in some urban poor districts of the city and other parts of the region.

The creation of the Agricultural Division in the University in 1977 ushered in the idea of an agricultural extension program. Since most of the communities in the region are rural and troubled by poverty, it was thought that a good way for the University to serve the local community would be through its agricultural extension projects. The project proposal, “Davao del Sur Agricultural Extension Program,” submitted in 1979 to the PBSP stated that this was to be the first time that the Ateneo would be assisting specific communities on a continuing basis.

The Davao del Sur Agricultural Extension Program

     The Davao del Sur Agricultural Extension Program had a project duration of one year, September 1979- August 1980. It was intended for seven hundred fifty low-income farmers of twenty barangays in five municipalities of Davao del Sur: Malalag, Sta. Maria, Malita, Padada, and Kiblawan. This project was actually a follow-up startegy of the primary health care program of the Davao Medical School Foundation. It was believed that low-income farmers would be able to sustain their health if their socio-economic conditions were improved through intensive food production and income-generating activities. This project involved the providing of agricultural and technical assistance to help farmers increase farm production by fielding five agricultural extension workers.

     The first month of the project was devoted to two important pre-operating activities, namely, the project orientation of the Staff and the familiarization of the extension workers within the beneficiary communities. After the assignment of the extension workers to their  respective areas, the activities of the Project for the rest of the year consisted mainly of routine work like  individual contacts and visits to families, provision of technical assistance or training of farmers, identification and initiation of pilot demonstration projects, supervisory work, and program evaluation.

    At the end of the project, in his letter to Mr. Ernest Garilao, Executive Director of the PBSP, Fr. Emeterio J. Barcelon, S.J., President of the Ateneo de Davao University and Project Director, wrote that, in general, the project had attained its primary goal of helping the poorest of the poor through helping the farmers find ways and means to increase their income by adopting more modern techniques of agriculture. Some encouraging results were: more farmers engaged in different agricultural activities like vegetable gardening, poultry, and livestock production; there was increasing productivity; and communal endeavors in vegetable gardening and in demonstration plots were promoted.

The Agricultural Extension and Skills Training Project

     Fr. Barcelon then explored the possibility of expanding the project and initiated the “Agricultural Extension and Skills Training Project.” The general objective of this project, located in North Cotabato and in the Davao City-Bukidnon border, was to provide extension and skills training to the low-income farmers of the five municipalities in the project site in order to increase their farm productivity. The project had three specific goals: firsts, to increase the average monthly income of five hundred and sixty of the targeted low-income beneficiaries by at least fifty pesos; second, to set up and maintain viable non-traditional crop demonstration farms in the target areas for the purpose of proving their adaptability to the local farmers, and finally, to enable seventeen farmer-cooperators to provide informal training inputs and consultancy services. However, an assessment of the project informal training inputs and consultancy services. However, an assessment of the project revealed certain weaknesses and limitations in the program structure.

The Sinuda Agricultural Extension Program

     The Sinuda Agricultural Extension Program was actually a continuation of a previous project conducted in Sinuda, a municipality in the Davao-Bukidnon border, during the second PBSP assisted agricultural extension project. However, it was more than just a continuation because the project expanded from a single rice culture demonstration plot in Sinuda  to other activities like vegetable production in the other neighboring areas of Lorega, Bayanihan, and Pamulaan, the farmers classes and para-extension training program, and the sloping agricultural extension projects, this third project was intended to raise the income level of the farmers. One particular element of this project that differed from the first two was its objective of setting up  a model extension service.

Before the project was undertaken, the people in Sinuda practiced shifting agriculture, did not have interest in lowland rice farming; were not generally cultivating their own vegetables gardens, and lacked know how in agriculture. The people in Sinuda are now going into lowland rice farming and are turning more and more towards vegetable gardening, applying the technology disseminated by the extension workers. A sociometric survey revealed that the people have identified their problems and needs, key persons in the community, and entry points of the extension program to the community.

     Among the highlights of the Sinuda Projects were the para-extension training given to some farmers of Sinuda and its neighboring areas, rice culture demonstrations farms several vegetable demonstrations plots, and the farmer’s classes in many areas. Since the program is still in its early stages, it is premature to judge its impact on the community, especially regarding factors affecting values, production, and community involvement. However, a few tangible results have already surfaced. They are the farmers growing awareness of the need to organize, plan , and participate in matters affecting themselves and the community, as well as their conviction of the importance of practical skills or relevant technologies, farm inputs, and marketing systems.

The Social Credit Project

One of the problems encountered by the agri-extension project in 1979 was the lack of credit-sources for the farmer beneficiaries. As support activity for the agricultural extension and Katiwala projects, the Social Credit Project was conceived to provide not only technical and  training consultancy assistance to small scale entrepreneurs but also credit assistance for those who were not financially viable.

     Starting its five-year period from April 1, 1981, the Social Credit Project had thirty-five target beneficiaries for Year 1, twenty-five of whom were identified from among their clientele by the agricultural and Katiwala workers and ten directly chosen by the Institute for Small Scale Industries (now the Institute for Small Farms and Industries), the implementing arm. Technical assistance was to be provided before and  after credit it was given in order to minimize risks and improve production. Thus, the inputs before credit assistance consisted of the following: determine the applicants technical and credit needs, to set up or improve current management techniques and practices, and to set up a book-keeping and recording system. The inputs after credit assistance were: consultation and further training for effective project management as well as efficient bookkeeping and recording.

     It is important to note here that it was envisioned that at the end of five years, available social credit project under the management of the Ateneo de Davao University could be institutionalized with operating systems and policies and a generated capital fund for re-lending for the low-income beneficiaries income generating activities. It remains to be seen if this terminal objective will be achieved. This is the projects   third year of operation.

     Since the start of its operation in 1981, the Social Credit Project has assisted more than fifty family-beneficiaries in agri-based projects, cottage industries, food processing, marine culture, and other services. With the credit and technical assistance given, the project has developed  business entrepreneurs among these people, but since the loan was to be paid with a certain interest, problems of collection arose. The attitude of delaying payments and the habit of diverting project funds for other use has still prevailed among many beneficiaries causing the project management to increase penalty charges on delayed payments. Marketing has been a problem among some beneficiaries, while limited supply of raw materials has forced others to shift to other projects.

The Ateneo Experience In Outreach Projects

     It is clear that the four Ateneo outreach projects described follow the developmental approach. The three agricultural extension projects, for example, are concerned with the increase of agricultural production, and the social credit project provides technical and credit assistance in income-generating activities. While it is true that there were some attempts at organization of people through the farmers classes and para-extension training, as in the case of the Sinuda Project, there was no real effort to conscienticize  the people, to educate them in their rights and dignity as persons, and to pursue steps that could free them fro unjust structures and systems. Likewise, integral evangelization was not included. The spiritual dimension is missing in these projects of the outreach program of the University. In the agricultural extension projects as well as in the social credit project, nothing is mentioned about the proclamation of the gospel message of salvation as part of the total approach in improving the quality of life.

     A few general lines, therefore, can be drawn to describe the Ateneo outreach projects. Three main characteristics are clearly evident. First, the primary goal is economic. This is clear in all the outreach projects discussed. The three agricultural extension projects were envisioned to raise the income of the farmers by improving farm productivity through the introduction of non-farm inputs like fertilizer and pesticides, the use of certified seeds, the application of intercopping and the sloping agricultural land technology (SALT). The Social Credit Project gave technical assistance in project management as well as credit assistance to start livelihood projects. Second, the participatory element is generally insufficient. In the second PBSP assisted project, one of its specific objective was to identify other viable projects in the areas which could provide substantial income for the family. No mention was made of the people’s participation in finding out what projects were to be undertaken in order to improve their income. Third, organization for conscientization of rights and powers is practically non-existent in all the projects. Projects were initiated with the aim of having economic growth rather than education for total human development.

     However, there is no doubt that the outreach projects of the Ateneo de Davao University have extended help to the disadvantaged members of the community. Farmers have adopted new methods of rice culture, and as a consequence, some have increased their production. A significant increase in the number of families going into vegetable, livestock, and poultry productions because of the intervention of the extension workers has also been seen in the agricultural extension projects.

     The University concern for the poor, especially those in the far-flung rural areas, is indeed a mark of Christian commitment, an eloquent expression of the Ateneo guiding principle: “Men For Others.” However, while it is significant to harvest ten or fifty more cavans of rice per hectare because of new technology, far more significant is to be aware that man as a person, can improve the quality of his life, attain self-reliance, and be self-sufficient in basic needs if he develops his potentials, if he is liberated from ignorance, injustice, and exploitation.

     Social change is more than a change in the structures of Society. It is, first and foremost, a change in the hearts and minds of the people, a change in their consciousness, a process of becoming more as persons. It involves many factors that compose what can be called the totality of the person, such as, his political, cultural, economic, and religious values. It also involves his past and future as well as everything that he feels, thinks, and does in the present. These factors change from within, starting from the depths of his consciousness, emerging into his way of thinking, doing, and living. As such, this change can not be imposed by forces outside himself. Thus, outreach projects should produce an impact not only on the people’s  income but also and above all on themselves as persons. A few suggestion for future directions are presented as reflections of the present socioeconomic situation of the country and of the role of the Ateneo outreach projects in prompting social change.

     First, the outreach projects should extend beyond economic growth into human development. The end product of all outreach activities should be the human person, not only economic growth. Pope Paul VI has said in Populorum Progressio that this conscious  humanization must not center upon the pursuit of possessions; integral human development means to be more, not to have more. Each man can grow in humanity, can enhance his personal worth, can become more a person.

     As a corollary to this, community organization and people’s participation should be given major emphasis. As a social being, man develops in a community and the community, in turn, develops if the members are organized so that together they identify their needs and problems and thus work together to find solutions. The community, therefore, can not develop without the direct participation of its members. Telling them what to do is another form of colonialism, and making decisions for them will not allow them to achieve maturity. the people, if they are to go through this slow and delicate process of growth, must be given the chance to take part directly in this process, both in the decisions that affect their personal lives and in the issues that involve the entire community. Therefore, building community capability, trust, and cooperation should be fostered. This can be done only in the spirit of freedom, respect for their customs, values and traditions, and a genuine concern for their rights and privileges. To go to them as the powerful to the powerless or the helpful to the helpless will certainly not build trust and confidence in themselves.

     This further presupposes another basic principle; the people must be listened to. One is able to know a community if one is willing to listen to them and consequently learn from them. Since the problems as well as the resources of one community are different from those of another, to know a community, it is essential to live there and become a part of it. The importance of preparation and training of outreach workers as well as staff capability development can not be over emphasized.

     Finally, outreach projects should lead to self-reliance. In the last analysis, when everything is said and done, what really count is: have the people become self-reliant, as individuals and as a community? Only then, can we say that the outreach projects have succeeded in the promotion of social transformation.

     Economic growth can lead to growth in human values, and finally to integral human development. Yet, it is important to define the goals more clearly, after a thorough understanding of the community, and integrate the concepts of development, liberation, and integral evangelization in the whole strategy. These considerations should become part of the Ateneo de Davao University’s  Agricultural extension projects.

CONCLUSION: TOWARDS INTEGRAL EVANGELIZATION

     The articles written by Sony J. Chin on the Katiwala Program and by Rey Tusoy on the Agricultural Extension Projects have shown two ways that the Ateneo de Davao University is serving the local community. As a conclusion to this study, I will comment on these programs in the light of the University’s efforts to help the local Church promote integral evangelization.

     There are many differences between the two types o f programs. The  Katiwala Program has been in existence since the late 1960‘s and has been an evolving program that has achieved notable success. On the other hand, the agricultural extension projects are more recent efforts and are struggling to achieve significant results. The two articles reveal the different natures of these two programs. My comments will be in the form of three points.

     The first point concerns methodology and approach. The Katiwala program has been able to retain its vitality and dynamism throughout the years because of its flexibility and its willingness to adapt to the changing social realities and the needs of the people. This flexibility in approach, especially in listening to the people express their needs, has strengthened the program. As the Katiwala Program evolved in its service to the people there was a transition from an original charitable approach, to a developmental approach, to finally, a more liberationist approach. On the other hand, the agricultural extension projects have taken primarily a developmental approach. Rey Tusoy has criticised this methodology by saying that more is needed. Perhaps, the agricultural extension projects can learn from the experiences of the Katiwala Program and be more flexible in their approach, especially in listening to the people express their needs.

     The second point to consider is the relationship of the University Programs to the pastoral programs of the local Church. At the present time, there is no formal link of either type program with the local Church. Regarding the Katiwala Program, it is interesting to note that many of the staff members, project officers, and Katiwala workers themselves had been active in Church groups. Sony Chin firmly believes that the Katiwala Program would be strengthened by formal links with the institutional Church. In fact,there are discussions going on how between the administrators of the Katiwala Program and the leaders of the local Churches in the Davao region to look into such possibilities. The Katiwala Program can be of great help to the GKK movement, the building up of basic ecclesial communities on the grass roots level. As previously stated, there is the retaliation that the GKKs must go beyond religious activities and respond also to the temporal realities. Some of the GKK programs already do have some community based health projects, but not all of them do. The Katiwala can be helpful to those GKK which do not have such community based health programs and can even be helpful to those who do by sharing its expertise and training methods. This will be a significant contribution to the local Church. On the other hand, it will also be good for the Katiwala to be even more integrated into the local community through the GKK or basic ecclesial communities. Since the aim of the Katiwala Program is to train community based health workers, and then move on, it would be of great help for the volunteer  health workers, and then move on, it would be of great help for the volunteer health workers to be integrated into an ongoing program that continues in the life of the local community, and that program is the Gagmayng Kristohanong Katilingban (GKK). To strengthen the faith life and commitment of the Katiwala would enable her to continue her service despite the many difficulties she will encounter. Thus, there are tremendous possibilities through the integration of the Katiwala with the pastoral program of the local Church.

     The agricultural extension programs should also be open to being linked with the pastoral plans of the local Church in order to more effectively promote integral  evangelization. The religious dimension is at the core of personal and communal life as well as at the core of social transformation. What technical skills the University’s extension projects contribute should not stand alone. They should be integrated with the efforts of the local Church which is often in need of such technical help. The University Projects would also be helped by an integration with the pastoral plan of the local Church because then they would have roots in the community to pursue its efforts. Such a linkage would make possible the promotion of integral evangelization, the preaching of the Gospel as well as the material upliftment of the people.

     The third  point is the need for cooperation and communication. All too often, there are individual efforts that are weak and in effective, but if integrated with other efforts, can be very supportive. Many groups have gone through growth experiences which they can share with other groups. However, human nature being what it is, there are frequently rivalries and bickerings that prevent an integrated program from being implemented. Such a program can only be achieved through the help of facilitating leadership, a leadership that can cut through the pettiness and bring out the best in the different groups and organizations. This  is a basic phenomenon in all organizational work, whether it be on an small scale or large scale, whether it be in the University or in the Church. The two types of programs of the University can learn from each other. Cooperation and communication are essentials for the promotion of integral evangelization.

     Thus, it is clear that the Ateneo de Davao University has committee itself to be a service to the local community and has been involved in various programs. Two programs have been studied: the Katiwala Program of the Institute of Primary Health Care of the Davao Medical School Foundation and the various efforts of the University’s agricultural extension program. However, there has been the growing awareness that the University can not be alone in its efforts to serve the local community. To be of even greater service, there should be an integration with the pastoral plan of the local Church. Such a pastoral plan must be based on the promotion of integral evangelization: evangelization that includes the promotion of human development and liberation as an integral part. The local Church realizes that it does not have sufficient resources in its town institutional structures to effectively implement such a program. It should and must coordinate with the efforts of other institutions and groups in service to the community. This is where the Ateneo de Davao University can be of great help.

     Three points should be considered in such effort: flexibility in methodology and approach, the integration of the University’s outreach programs with the pastoral plan of the local Church, and finally, the necessity for cooperation and communication. The achievement of such efforts will strengthen and foster the promotion of integral evangelization, so essential for the life and mission of the local Church.