The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office 1’s Regional Crop Protection Center (RCPC) and Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Information Section (RAFIS), conducted a two-day training workshop for Provincial Information Officers and Local Media Practitioners on Developing and Implementing Mass Media Campaigns on Sustainable Fall Armyworm Management in Pangasinan.

The workshop was held at The Monarch Hotel, Calasiao, Pangasinan on November 23-25, 2022, where representatives from BPI – Manila, DA-PhilRice, LGU Agriculturists, Pangasinan Provincial Information Officers and local media practitioners in the province such as DZAG Radyo Pilipinas (RP) Agoo, La Union, DWRS RP Tayug, Pangasinan, DZMQ RP – Dagupan, Pangasinan, and GMA Regional TV were convened to participate in the workshop.

Mr. Edmundo Quinit, the consultant of the Global Action for FAW Control Program in Region 1, expressed hope in his introductory remarks that the strategy for the effective and efficient implementation of environmentally friendly technologies for farmers would be developed.

“If we can properly control this damaging pest, we will be able to contribute to improved food security in the Philippines, particularly for corn. It’s not just for farmers’ needs, it’s for everyone’s needs” Mr. Quinit said.

The goals of the workshop are undertaking communication need assessment where it aims to inform the target groups that this global invasive species has a significant economic impact, as well as knowing and understanding the biological and ecological cycles of the Fall Army Worm.
Another objective is to develop key messages that must be communicated to the various target groups, particularly corn farmers and local government officials, to develop an integrated IEC strategy, and put in place measures for implementing it by selecting appropriate video communication, and to develop IEC materials in vernacular languages (Tagalog, Ilokano, and Pangasinense).

“This is a holistic approach to control, prevent, and eventually eradicate any pests or diseases. Be it – livestock, crops, and other commodities in the agriculture sector. I am very pleased that all of you are here. From the information group of the LGUs, our mass media partners. We are all here to come up with appropriate information or advocacy materials.” said OIC – Regional Executive Director of DA – RFO1, Dr. Annie Q. Bares.

Dr. Bares also mentioned that this workshop is very essential because it raises awareness of the Fall Armyworms among all stakeholders, including our stockholders, policymakers, and most especially farmers.

Mr. John Paul Maminta of the DA-Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) – Crop Pest Management Division (CPMD) delivered a report on the implementation of Global Action for Fall ArmyWorm (FAW) control in the Philippines, while Mr. Jose Tolentino, Jr. of the DA – RFO1 RCPC introduced the biological and ecological cycles of the Fall ArmyWorm, other major insect pests of corn and their Sustainable Management through IPM-PAMS.

On the other hand, Ms. Jasmine Magtibay, Programme Assistant at FAO Philippines, discussed the guidelines on FAO Communications while Ms. Eva Agustin, Information Officer II from DA RFO1 – RAFIS, discussed the various types of Media platforms and determined which media tool is efficient in reaching out to the target groups in relation to info advocacy for major corn pests.

On the second day of the workshop, the attendees went for a field visit to one of the farmer’s 32 hectares of corn plantation in Brgy. Nilombot, Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan. The attendees were also given the opportunity to see and observe the Fall Armyworms, as well as witness how severely they infested the crops during both the reproductive and vegetative stages.

Following the field work, Dr. Maricel Dacapias, ATI Information Officer, continued the workshop by explaining how they communicate information using the ATI – RTC 1 method and also informed the participants their programs, activities and how they reach out to the said various target groups.

Sharing as well cases on rice plantation infested by Fall Army Worms in Region II was Ms. Evelyn Valdez, FAW project team lead of DA-PhilRice. Ms. Valdez also mentioned that she is grateful to be part of the workshop since it would be a great help for them just in case the fall armyworms would infest rice in the future.

The participants were grouped and tasked to develop IEC materials for Farmers, for Agricultural Technicians, for the general public and for the policy makers. They were able to produce an Audio Visual Presentation and prints, reading materials, and a commercial.

After the presentation of the IEC materials, the participants were grouped once again according to their profession in making an action plan for the production and distribution of IEC materials for the year 2023.
Ms. Lea Astrud Santiago, owner/manager of The Our Farm Republic, in her closing remarks, stated that this problem with the Fall ArmyWorms can be solved.

“Ako bilang isang farmer, natutuwa kami dahil dumadami tayo. I’m happy na yung mga napakalaking sector at napakalaking impluwensya – ang media ay kakampi na natin.” She said.

In attendance were Ms. Marivic Begonia, Chief of the Regional Crop Protection Center (RCPC) Region 1, Mr. Aries Magat, DA PREC – Chief in Sual, Pangasinan, Ms. Debbie Davalos, FAO Philippine GA-FAW Control Program Focal Person, Dr. Marvin Quilates, Focal Person for Organic Agriculture, Ms. Wilma Cuaterno, FAO Consultant, Mr. Ferdinand Matro, Former chief of Corn Banner Program, representatives from OPAG Pangasinan, Municipal Agriculturists in Pangasinan, representatives from DA-BPI CPMD, DA-PhilRice Batac, and staff from FAO PH and DA-RCPC Region 1.

The main objective of the workshop is to bridge information gaps about fall armyworms among farmers, agricultural technicians, policymakers, and the general public.