September 17, 2020 – More and more students taking up agriculture are encouraged to orient farmers on the safe use of crop protection products. Bayer Philippines had recently launched its first ever virtual safe use ambassador conference for the purpose of increasing farmer awareness and adoption of the proper use of agricultural chemicals for their own safety.
The online conference brought together more than 2,000 various stakeholders from 14 countries, including university scientists, researches, students, regulatory officials, ministries, and farmers. Students from Philippine universities and colleges invited were University of the Philippines – Los Baños, Central Luzon State University, Mindanao State University, and others who were part of the previous training programs.
Since 2017, the Bayer Safe Use Ambassador program has trained more than 500 university and college students in the Philippines on how crop protection products should be used in a safe & sustainable manner. The session includes both a classroom and field demonstration portion so that students may see for themselves the right way of applying these products to protect both the farmer and the crops. Aside from the Philippines, the program is also being implemented in other countries around the world, including Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, Vietnam, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Brazil, and Peru.
“By laying down the foundation of farm safety among young students, we can be assured that the next generation of farmers will embrace the need for safety & product stewardship,” said Iiinas Ivan Lao, country commercial lead for Bayer Crop Science. “This would help farming become more enticing to more Filipinos and promote it as a safe & sustainable means of livelihood.”
In a survey conducted with university scientists and researchers before the conference, most responses confirmed our understanding that the industry along with governments, academia, and farming communities play a key role in ensuring safe use of crop protection products.
To encourage the students to teach farmers on safe use of agriculture products, Bayer holds an annual competition wherein students can send in their essay and videos on their experience in training farmers. Those selected are invited to Bayer’s agriculture headquarters in Monheim, Germany and engage with leaders and stakeholders on how safe use programs can be further enhanced in all countries.
Jane Mae Navasquez, a third year agriculture student from Mindanao State University, was one of the competition winners and the first coming from the Philippines. She was one of the participants in the safe use ambassador training sessions held by Bayer and became inspired to help farmers in her town. Navasquez was one of the speakers during the virtual conference.
“With my eagerness to know more about the various aspects of agriculture and help farmers in return motivated me to join the competition,” said Navasquez. “It was a great opportunity for me as a Filipino student to impart these learnings to our Filipino farmers.”
Navasquez felt the responsibility to share her newly gained information about safe use of crop protection products. She was worried that traditional farmers still do not adopt the recommended practices, which included wearing personal protective equipment (PPEs), and the potential negative impact on their health.
The students and farmers establish an emotional relationship beyond that achievable by any institution. Bayer intends to extend the program to more countries in order to expand the outreach of safe use of these agricultural products.
“There is still a long way to go when you talk about knowledge transfer to farmers on the right way to use crop protection products,” added Lao. “However, we believe that we should do it both ways—teaching farmers through our regular engagement activities and building that foundation among future farmers who will produce food for us in the succeeding years.” Bryan Rivera