Lifestyle: Nicomedes P. Eleazar: Your Expert Link to Tech Research & Commercialization
A different approach is making the effort of technology transfer reach more Filipino farmers.
The strategy of making problematic people think on how to solve their problems may not be a new thing. But it certainly increases the degree of success a solution can achieve.
That’s how differently Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar has been trying to bridge the gap between technological research and its application.
“There is a social preparation (in imparting changes to a community). We don’t just introduce a package of technology. We also consider the social aspect which is very important. If you prepare people, there won’t be any resistance,” he said.
There may be some bad things that you can hear from non-government organizations (NGOs). But Eleazar picks up on perhaps one of their greatest strengths and called it Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR).
Eleazar grew up seeing how agriculture works in his family’s farm in Tagkawayan, Quezon. As one who comes from a family who farms, and admitting to be a promdi (from the province), Eleazar knew too well that learning a technology is one thing. And being hands-on in it, another.
This is why he has been all out implementing CPAR which harnesses community organizing experts to take the lead in helping farmers adopt technologies by making them participate in how to solve their problems from the very start.
With CPAR, farmers participate in optimizing their income possibilities from the planning stage to the implementation stage of a program. CPAR has a Farmer Appreciation Implementing Program that makes farmers want to be in this program.
CPAR gets the team work, the team energy out of the organization that it helps put farmers into.
“We only involve organized groups,” said Eleazar.
Collective power from an organized group is bolstered by the efforts of community development experts most of whom have taken up Social Work or Community Development as a course at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman . There is, in fact, a Ph.D. on Community Development at UP Los Banos (LB) which Eleazar assures is a very important course.
“Training in Community Development is very useful specially now that we have a focus on development programs. It’s very important when you’re dealing foreign donor institutions, aid agencies, and GFIs (government financial institutions). Climate change is in now. But before climate change became popular, community development has been the ‘in’ thing.”
Eleazar himself has seen tremendous benefit from his own education and training in leading BAR into helping technologies get to the market. See his background.
Master of Science in Management (Project Management), Cranfield University, Bedford, England
Ph.D. in Rural Development (candidate), Central Luzon State University (CLSU)
Ph.D. Agricultural Sciences (Honoris Causa). Ramon Magsaysay Technological University
Non-degree courses: Animal Disease Control, Cochran Fellowship Program, Iowa State University; Agricultural Research Management, SEAMEO-Searca; Project Benefit Monitoring and Evaluation (PRME) System for Foreign Assisted Projects, Ateneo Graduate School of Business; Designing and Managing Integrated Rural Development Programs, George Mason University Professional Training Center, Arlington, Virginia
“My course on project management is actually very applicable in our environment because BAR is a coordinating agency. We manage implementation of research programs and look at all the aspects of a project– technical, financial, social, and economic.”
First of all, he took up BS Agriculture, following after his father who finished Agriculture at CLSU long before UPLB even had its first Agriculture course offering.
And keeping his eye on their family farm has turned out to be his therapy away from his stressful days at BAR since Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Arthur C. Yap has been constantly making sure research commitments are put in place.
“That was my deal with (former DA Sec) Dr. (William) Dar and Sec. (Leonardo) Montemayor when I committed to do this work– that I should have the time to go home to Quezon,” he said.
His farm, situated along the highway, has already once become a technology demonstration site, as you know Eleazar knows best practices. But, he stresses, this is only a “small” piece of land. Among the crops planted in it are rice, coconut, citrus (dalanghita), Thailand’s sweet tamarind for which he has 65 trees, and pili.
He admits to missing now some foreign conferences and trainings due to the demands of his work which he joyfully accepts because he knows this will have a lasting impact on the society.
His dream is to see the realization of the agriculture modernization through the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA).
“We should be given P2 billion a year for research until AFMA is finished,” he said.
And what no better way to accelerate achieving that modernization dream than doing the marketing first which is what he has done through BAR’s Technology Commercialization Center (Tech-Com). The Tech-Com in Region 5 does not only sell farmers’ fresh and processed production in its display area. It has also become a convergence site for farmers, suppliers, traders, industrial markets, and consumers.
“After you’re done in your farm research and in helping farmers adopt them, enterprise development follows. You have to teach people to become entrepreneurs. That’s poverty alleviation, and it’s the best strategy,” he said.
He was convinced that Tech-Com is essential to technology commercialization since he was honest enough to admit, in the first place, where government had erred in the past.
“We really had that shortcoming in R&D (research and development). We’ve been so used to the academe dealing on research, competing for this, and then getting the works published in journals. But after those, nothing really happens.”
Some secrets to managing:
Books: The One Minute Manager, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Once he chooses the right people and trains them, he empowers them to accomplish work without having to be closely supervised.
Hobbies and Relaxation: Reading my favorite books and magazine; watching CNN; singing a little. I can survive staying in my office all day. During my free time, I review on the tasks needed in our (family) farm, how much coconut jam can be produced from the coconut produce. I’m proud. That’s my recreation.
Exercise: brisk walking in our subdivision
When he retires, he will engage in food processing for his family farm which is now managed by a nephew. And he confesses, he’s already very eager to do that.
“When I’m no longer BAR’s director, watch out. You’ll see me there selling pili.”