Community participation key to boosting productivity
(The Philippine Star) - October 24, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines – In the Bicol region, a community-based participatory action research (CPAR) project exemplifies how collaboration forms an important part in implementing research and development undertakings especially at the grassroots level.

The project was implemented by the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office 5 through the Bicol Integrated Agricultural Research Center (BIARC).

Supported by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), the project aimed to increase farmers’ productivity and income in the upland areas through the development of appropriate and location-specific technologies and interventions.

It sought to enhance the role of R&D in production management systems, transfer of technology, and resource management towards agricultural productivity in the region. 

Through the participatory rural appraisal, the farmers identified the problems that need to be addressed in achieving productivity.

Among these needs identified included: lack of quality upland rice seeds, technical know-how on weed management, high cost of inputs, and diversification to address limited income.

“To respond to the needs of the farmers, we knew that we need strong coordination and linkage mechanisms to government and non-government institutions. We, at the local government unit (LGU) alone, cannot provide all the solutions to the problems of our farmers,” said Arlene Dayo, agricultural technician from the LGU of Goa, Camarines Sur. 

Aside from the provision of initial farm inputs in the form of seeds, tools, equipment, and other agricultural supplies, the farmers were also taught on production and weed management systems.

Meanwhile, the need to diversify was addressed through the LGU of Goa.

Teaching the farmers the importance to diversify meant encouraging them to plant rice along with livestock and poultry, fisheries, rootcrops, and even forest/fruit trees that provided them with additional sources of food and income. 

In cooperation with the Agricultural Training Institute, the LGU likewise spearheaded the conduct of farmers’ field schools on upland farming and farmers’ field days.

To deal with the high cost of inputs, the farmers were introduced to alternative low-cost feeds for livestock and poultry.

As for the costly fertilizers for vegetables and crops, the farmers were capacitated on liquid organic fertilizer production.

Part of the collaboration was the partnership with a non-government organization for the conduct of varietal adaptability trials for rice.

Such endeavor helped the farmers identify the varieties suitable in their respective farms. They implemented the interventions that are most beneficial and are more practical to them. 

For product development and market linkages, the project linked with the Department of Trade and Industry through participation in trade fairs and related activities.

On the other hand, the Department of Labor and Employment was tapped for the registration of farmers’ organizations to give them legal personality.

Ultimately, the farmers themselves were the key collaborators of the CPAR project.

Through holistic capability enhancement approaches, farmers discovered their gifts and appreciated their worth in the community to become more productive and effective partners.

“We have realized that making the farmers our partners in these endeavors make them more responsible and thus, become prime movers of sustainable development not just in their respective organizations, but to the community as well,” Ms. Dayo said. 

The CPAR FarmCARE project developed a pool of farmer-trainers who became resource persons during training workshops.

 “Through capability development, we were able to empower our farmers. We did not only teach them, but we harnessed their capacities and potentials,” BIARC manager  Luz R. Marcelino said.

One of the many farmer-cooperators who benefitted from the project was Myrna C. Asor.

In Thailand, she was recognized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as a model farmer in the Philippines for her efforts in organic and diversified farming systems.

Serving as a trainer to her fellow farmers, she highly encouraged them to persevere and take advantage of the trainings and technologies given to them.

According to her, collaboration among farmers, government and non-government agencies is essential in bringing about significant changes in their lives.

ACIRC AGRICULTURAL TRAINING INSTITUTE ARLENE DAYO BICOL INTEGRATED AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH CENTER BUREAU OF AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH CAMARINES SUR DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE-REGIONAL FIELD OFFICE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT DEPARTMENT OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY FARMERS FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
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