German gov’t gives grant assistance for production of abaca, rice
German gov’t gives grant assistance for production of abaca, rice
(The Philippine Star) - March 22, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) is pursuing, through grant assistance from the German government, sustainability projects for the production of abaca and rice.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala recently signed agreements with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) for a sustainability project in abaca planting dubbed as the “Abaca Sustainability Initiative” and a market education project for farmers called “Better Rice Initiative Asia-Fostering Agriculture and Rice Marketing by Improved Education and Rural Advisory Services (BRIA-FARMERS)”.

The Abaca Sustainability Initiative would be carried out using a grant assistance of 386,000 Euros – equivalent to P19 million – from the GIZ. This would be implemented by the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) for two years in the municipalities of Libacao and Madalag in Aklan and Januiay and Maasin in Iloilo.

Under the project, around 500 hectares of abaca production areas in the provinces would undergo certification from the Rainforest Alliance to enable these areas to export to more foreign markets.

Before these production areas are certitifed, farmers have to undergo training on good agricultural practices and sustainable production methods. Ten farmers and agricultural extension workers would be trained initially, after which they would also become trainers to 300 smallholder farmers cultivating the 500-hectare project area.

The Rainforest Alliance is a foreign certifiying body for sustainable industries.

The beneficiaries of the project would also be provided with planting materials and paraphernalia such as decorticating machines for fiber extraction.

They would also be assisted in the establishment of nurseries that would be used for replanting and rehabilitation of cultivation areas affected by plant diseases.

The Philippines is a major supplier of abaca pulp to teabag manufacturers. Among the companies that use teabags made from Philippine abaca pulp is Unilever, the maker of Lipton Tea. The conglomerate aims to shift to the use of certified tea bags by 2016.

“This project is a wakeup call for (abaca) farmers and it is also a way of telling the world that Philippine abaca is now being certified,” said Alcala.

Philippine abaca fiber and other manufactures are sold to countries like the US, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, China, Taiwan and South Korea among others.

Raw abaca fiber is processed into pulp, which, in turn, is used to make tea bags, surgical masks, sausage cases and coffee filters among other products.

Abaca is one of the country’s top industrial crops along with coconut, rubber, tobacco and sugar.

The BRIA-FARMERS project, on the other hand, would be supported by a grant of 1.8 million Euros – equivalent to P90 million – aimed at increasing production and marketing knowledge of beneficiaries and to help them get started with farm-based enterprises that would be sustained beyond the duration of the project. This would be implemented beginning this year until 2017.

The project would cover the municipalities of Dipaculao, Maria Aurora and Baler in Aurora province; Leganes, Oton, Pototan, Zarraga and Sta. Barbara in Iloilo; and Hinunangan, Silago, Sain Bernard and Sogod in Southern Leyte.

Under the project, 400 farmers and agricultural extension workers in the provinces covered would be trained on technology-based nutrient management, integrated farming systems and enhanced agricultural extension. Afterwards, they would extend their knowledge to 8,000 rice farmers in the targeted municipalities.

The beneficiaries would also be assisted in establishing linkages with the private sector and institutional buyers. Their marketing skills would also be honed through participation in farm business schools.

“We have been incorporating entrepreneurship in our programs as we want to produce not only good farmers, but also successful agri-entrepreneurs,” said Alcala.

The GIZ is the conduit of grants provided by the German government as part of its international cooperation efforts.

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