The LGU Extension Services in a Major Rice-Growing Area: The Case of Hagonoy, Davao del Sur

Rosa Fe D. Hondrade
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The province of Davao del Sur is considered one of the major rice-producing provinces of Region XI. It has been regarded as Mindanaos top rice-yielding province because of its municipalitys (Hagonoy) high yield performance. Hagonoys average rice
yield of more than six tons per hectare has consistently been higher than the provincial average of a little more than five tons per hectare, both of which are higher than the regional average of more than four tons per hectare. In Hagonoy, some 1,436 farmers who are also mostly farmer-cultivators are actively engaged in rice farming over a total rice area of 2,046 hectares.
The Office of the Municipal Agriculture (OMAG) handles the extension services related to agriculture and fisheries as well as cooperative development. Manning the office are: one (1) municipal agriculture officer (officer-in-charge) and eight (8)agricultural technologists to cover 21 barangays in the municipality. Understaffed, the office follows a simple organizational structure, generally flat with only two levels (head -> ATs). Each staff has been assigned to handle different programs and 23 barangays. To cope with its situation of delivering agricultural programs and services to all its 21 barangays with limited personnel, the OMAG adopts the following strategy: a) ATs handle one or more programs covering two or more barangays; b) strengthen linkages with local, provincial, regional and national offices that implement agriculture programs; c) prioritize its programs with banner programs given full support and providing assistance to linkage programs (public or private); d) strengthen its cooperatives and farmers organizations to lend support in technology dissemination, pest and technology performance monitoring, and community mobilization; and exploit the use of information technologies like cell phones.
The study has shown that farmers have multiple sources of information within a given farming system. In addition to formal institutions like the national and regional agencies, the provincial and municipal agriculture services of the local government units, farmers seek out or exchange information and knowledge with input suppliers, traders and other private individuals who have stakes in rice production and marketing. Much of the information travels freely but some may also come with a fee. Such stakeholders (public or private) in rice may interact either to fulfill their needs or to pursue their interests. And as they interact with one another, information on prices, market opportunities, new technologies and practices as well as policy changes is also exchanged.