Central Luzon State University (CLSU) in Nueva Ecija launched the eFARM (Engaging Food and Agriculture Resources Management) Academy Program to  bring technologies and innovations to local and foreign students, life-long learners, farmers, local government units, and Philippine and foreign higher education institutions (HEIs).

This is a P15.4 million project funded by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) led by Dr. Gella Patria L. Abella of the CLSU Institute for Climate Change and Environmental Management (ICCEM).

In his speech during the launching ceremony, CHED Chairman Popoy de Vera  emphasized that the eFarm Academy is part of the Education Tourism (EduTourism) initiative of CHED that brings together HEIs, local government units (LGUs), and local communities to develop knowledge products, technologies and activities to make local areas tourist destinations.

“HEIs have teaching, research and extension expertise that can be harnessed for local tourist promotion. HEIs must also realize they are tourist destinations. When we go abroad, universities are must-see tourist spots that we include in our itinerary. Many Philippine HEIs played crucial roles in our history, or have technologies and products that would interest tourists, but we don’t see them as must-see destinations,” De Vera said.

“This is where CLSU and the eFARM Academy come in. We want CLSU to attract international students, and local and international tourists to come to the CLSU campus, see its technologies and products, and even study here. What you have is your vast experience and advanced technologies in the field of agriculture. So that’s what you have to capitalize on – when promoting your university to international students, you show them how they can enjoy their stay while studying here,” he added.

“The eFARM Academy is grounded with the clear intention of not only putting food on the table. It gives emphasis on the immediate need of educating the world on matters that concern food security,” said CLSU President Edgar Orden.

Three exhibits were put up to highlight the major components of the project namely: eFARM GROW, eFARM KITCHEN, and eFARM ACADEMY.

The FARM GROW (generate, reap, opportunity, and wealth) intends to showcase the existing agricultural technologies developed and generated by CLSU.

The eFARM KITCHEN, on the other hand, aims to translate the research outputs of CLSU into a variety of food processing technologies and culinary applications and package these into videos which will be uploaded via YouTube and Facebook.

The eFARM ACADEMY is the core component of the project which provides online courses and other learning materials that supports the promotion of agripreneurship through its Learning Management System wherein local and international students can enroll for free during the first year of its implementation.

“This is the essence of farm tourism or agritourism – promoting agriculture through educational activities for both students and tourists. Aside from just transferring knowledge and technologies to your partner institutions and your community, you also ensure that these facilities become tourist destinations as well,” De Vera said.

As part of the launching of the eFARM Academy Program, an event dubbed as Kapihan sa Bukid is conducted at the Cabisuculan Mushroom Center in the Science City of Muñoz (SCM), Nueva Ecija to intensify the partnership between CLSU, SCM LGU, and the Cabisuculan Mushroom Growers Association as one of the beneficiaries of the eFARM GROW.

Dr. Jerry A.  Rigos, City Agriculturist and representative of SCM Mayor Nestor L. Alvarez, reinforced their support to any project of CLSU that will strengthen and empower the farmers in their area.

De Vera also stressed that universities should prioritize doing extension and not just research because after all, universities were established to help the nearby communities grow. 

“Mahalaga ang ginagampanan ng mga pamantasan tulad ng CLSU upang mabago at mapabuti ang buhay ng mga tao at komunidad na nasasakupan nito,” he said. 

(SIGNED)
J. PROSPERO E. DE VERA III, DPA
Chairman
Commission on Higher Education

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