PILCD’s education project on sustainable agriculture started in the year 2003. It was crafted from the framework of “Continuing Education for Sustainable Development” anchored from two integrated perspectives.
From an adult education perspective, it is a continuing education strategy where farmers are involved in continuing process of action-reflection experience to gradually transform themselves from conventional farmers to organic farming practitioners and advocates.
From a sustainable agriculture frame, it carries a holistic view of organic agriculture that looks beyond the elimination of the use of chemical inputs. Rather, it is a farming system that will work closely with natures design and promotion of ecology and human health is an overarching value.
The projects design was framed following an action learning approach where learning by doing dominate the over-all learning process. The farmers took an active part from setting up the project plan, design to developing the first demonstration farm. It is a farm-based approach of continuing education and training for small farmers on sustainable agriculture that includes soil management, cropping systems, and pest/disease management, leadership development and entrepreneurship/business training.
Specifically, this aims to enable farmers to:
- Act upon their own initiative and analysis;
- Identify and resolve relevant problems;
- Conduct their own local sustainable agricultural programmes that include research and educational activities;
- Elicit the support of local institutions;
- Establish or adapt local organisations that enhance the influence of farmers in local decision making;
- Employ problem solving and decision making processes that are open and egalitarian;
- Facilitate the transformation of conventional farms to organic farming systems
- Create opportunities for all farmers in their communities to develop themselves and/or benefit from their organic farming activities;
- Promote organic farming as a viable sustainable agricultural system.
The three basic elements of this program are learning, knowledge generation, and organising. The three overlap in practice, but it all begins with education. The next step is the provision of opportunities for farmers to build their skills. These activities further farmers’ learning so that they are able to: a) develop their own knowledge through on-farm applied research; and b) organize groups and activities. The final phase includes activities that will enhance the capacities of farmers to create their own mechanisms to manage and market their resources.
PILCD maintains an organic farm center in Loo, Buguias, Benguet where training and learning activities are mainly conducted.